NCLB transfer system a boon

Busing offered by Loudon brings 'peace of mind,' parent says
Abigail Howard, 11, poses on Tuesday on the Loudon County school bus that she and her sister, Lauren, 13, ride to North Middle School each day. Audrey Howard’s daughters make up two of the three riders of the yellow bus that takes them to North Middle, the school they’ve transferred to under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Abigail Howard

By Lola Alapo Knoxville News Sentinel

When Audrey Howard learned her daughters' school, Fort Loudoun Middle, consistently missed certain academic benchmarks, she was concerned the girls would not get the quality of education they deserved.

In stepped the Loudon County school system with an offer to transport the girls to a middle school in good standing this year.

"What started as a stressful 'Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?' has turned into a great blessing," Howard said.

The girls, Abigail, 11, a sixth-grader, and Lauren, 13, an eighth-grader, are two of three passengers each morning on a small yellow bus that travels to North Middle School.

"It's total peace of mind," Howard said, noting that the school system transportation is saving her time and money. The girls' new school is eight miles from home compared with the two miles to Fort Loudoun Middle.

"All the kids think it's cool that they have their own bus and they're celebrities," Howard said.

Loudon County, like other school systems in the region and state, is required to provide transportation at public expense to students who opt to leave their zoned school once it's designated a school of choice, under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The costs associated with it are as unique as the transportation arrangements for students.

Sometimes, students ride together on a big bus. Other times, they have a bus to themselves like Howard's children.

Or, in some cases, the school system enters into a contract with parents and pays them per mile to transport their own students.

Loudon County currently pays 46 cents per mile for two parent contracts, said Kim McGimsey, the district's federal programs director.

In September, the district reimbursed $815 for both contracts, she said.