DAYTON, Tenn. - Seventy-four more students have begun riding Rhea County school buses in the past month, pushing the transportation system to near capacity, school board members were told this week.
Board member Carroll Henderson, transportation committee chairman, said several buses are running double routes, seven buses are within 5 percent of state limits of capacity and length of routes, and several older buses are being used to relieve overloaded routes.
"The growth we have had is more than we anticipated," Henderson said Tuesday. "We're having hard economic times, and high fuel prices are adding students to routes."
Board member John Mincy said that next year some 150 more students are expected to enroll at Rhea County High School "and we'll have to transport them."
Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said those students can be handled by adding two buses to those that now run from Rhea Central Elementary to the high school.
"But we need to look at this and tell the County Commission what we expect to need" in terms of the number of buses in the next five years, Mincy said.
Mincy, chairman of the planning committee, said he would call a meeting for members to discuss the situation and bring a recommendation to the board.
In other matters, Spring City Elementary Principal Shane Johnston reported that his school has won a $158,000 Focus Schools grant. He said the money would be used for professional development for teachers, to introduce teachers to methods for teaching children from low-income homes, and to pay for more instruction time for low-achieving students.
Board members also discussed complaints they have received about new federal meal standards. Complaints, they said, ranged from portions too small to satisfy hungry children to foods prepared without seasoning and being "tasteless."
Mincy pointed out that the board could do nothing about the federally imposed standards.