Greeson: Tragic school bus crash a symptom of larger problem

Greeson: Tragic school bus crash a symptom of larger problem

January 10th, 2017 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 11/24/16. Motorists pass a collection of teddy bears, mementos, and balloons placed at the site of a fatal school bus crash on Talley Road on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The makeshift memorial to victims of the Monday crash, which killed 6 Woodmore Elementary students and injured dozens more, has grown since the road was reopened Tuesday.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

The Hamilton County Board of Education will, by all accounts, consider examining better options for bus transportation for its students.

The board is expected to consider issuing requests for proposals for a potential replacement for the current contractor in aftermath of the deadly Woodmore Elementary School bus crash in November.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Durham School Services, the company that provides bus service for thousands of our public school students, has understandably come under harsh criticism after the wreck last month that killed six kids.

So the school board is looking to rebid the deal.

To this we all must say, "Great."

Thank goodness that they are looking for better options on something this important.

Thank goodness that action is happening.

Thank goodness that heartbreak is going to force our school district leaders to look for something new, different and better.

Please notice that we did not say something affordable.

No, in the weeks after the Woodmore tragedy, cost is a relative term that varies from lawsuits to public confidence to emotional outrage.

So the decision to look around should be about better than that. It should be a decision that is about duty and sense rather than dollars and cents.

This is a good sign and a wise decision for the school board.

Yes, we have in this space been quick to question and criticize when the bad stuff happens. This is an instance in which quick movement and management have led us to examine change for the right reasons.

That's progress, right? Problem leads to reaction leads to action.

The issues of leadership of the school system circulated long before the bus tragedy. Those issues were borne of tragedy and mismanagement at the county level.

And they need to be addressed with the same urgency as the bus tragedy. (We are roughly 11 months from Rick Smith's resignation and we are still very early in the search firm's process of culling candidates.)

The bus debacle demanded our attention and aggressive action.

As should the superintendent search, right? And remember that late last year the board was ready to vote — and almost assuredly would have passed the torch to Dr. Kirk Kelly before Kelly wisely called it off — and be done with the search.

It was the right call to search for a better — outside — option for bus solutions.

We can only hope they take the same view in the search for new leadership.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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