Chris Ragsdale, district deputy superintendent of operations, told school board members last week that the district will no longer bus students to the Matthews and Grant Boys and Girls clubs.
“It’s always unfortunate when you have to cut out a service,” Ragsdale said. “We don’t want to put the parents in a difficult situation, but with the deficits we were facing, a difficult decision had to be made.”
The Matthews Club is located off Fontaine Road in Mableton, and the Grant Club is off Six Flags Road in Austell.
The district has been providing transportation for the clubs, which are two of four in the county, for the last 12 years. Marietta City Schools provides transportation for the other two clubs.
Ragsdale said busing the nearly 400 children in elementary through high school to and from the clubs after school each day cost the district $150,000 a year.
He said the children were taken to the clubs, which are not in school attendance zones, on buses used for the No Child Left Behind school choice program, which was eliminated earlier in the year.
“We were utilizing some of those drivers to run some of these routes, so the drivers were serving a dual purpose,” he said. “When we did away with transportation for No Child Left Behind, that did away with the driver positions.”
Ragsdale said the buses were driving about 13,000 miles per year between 18 schools throughout the county. The drivers who were taking these routes have either been let go or transferred to other positions, he said.
The district may restore the service if funding becomes available, Ragsdale said.
Andy Crowe, president of the Boys and Girls Club board, would like to see the bus routes restored before school starts back in mid-August but said that seems unlikely.
“We are trying to explore some creative ways to … work with them,” Crowe said Tuesday. “We don’t want the boys and girls to go underserved.”
Missy Dugan, CEO and president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, said she does not feel slighted by the cuts.
“We understand budget cost issues,” she said. “In no way do we think Cobb County is not working with us.”
Dugan said she is looking at options to provide transportation for next school year, including increased parent participation, raising funds to give to the district and partnerships with churches or businesses.
“The bottom line is, children’s most important time of the day is after -school hours,” she said. “We work too hard not to continue this program.”
The clubs are open for children anytime school is not in session, including after school and during spring or summer breaks.
The Marietta School District has no plans to cut transportation for the two clubs they serve, Marietta Associate Superintendent Dayton Hibbs said.