“We got our last one home a little after 6 [p.m.] and the parents were fantastic. For example, there was no way for a bus to get up the hill at Carter Grove and so we had parents actually come down to the bottom of the hill to pick up their children and walk them back,” Hinesley said. “... Our transportation [department] and bus drivers, we had them doubling back and taking kids off buses to get them home quicker rather than just staying on their bus once they finish their route.
“Under the circumstances it worked out OK. It was a challenge, but our bus drivers did a fantastic job with Ken Paige and Kim Black out of our transportation department.”
He said the system took precautions due to the possibility of some students not being able to return home.
“We had our principals stay late, just in case we had one of our cafeteria managers stay in case we had to feed, but that didn’t happen,” Hinesley said. “We were prepared, if necessary, but as it turned, out it all worked out.”
He said Cartersville Primary School served as the central location for any students facing transportation issues.
“We did have some [students] who returned [to CPS] because we did not leave anybody at their drop off with nobody there,” Hinesley said.
He said he appreciated the assistance of Cartersville public works and the Cartersville Police Department when working to transport students.
“Our transportation people were communicating with police and communicating with the city. They were great about letting us know where they salted and sanded and something we don’t always remember is some of these roads and bridges aren’t city [property], they’re Department of Transportation [property], so Ken [Paige] was also communicating with them,” Hinesley said.
Harper said he also appreciates the efforts of the community in helping keep students safe.
“... All in all it was a horrific day, but the team pulled together to make things happen for our children and they’re all safe and sound,” Harper said. “... We got a lot of support from the community, all the way from the commissioner going out to the schools and picking up kids to Wynn Pontiac putting a couple of vehicles on the road, the sheriff’s department, our school resource officers, anybody who had a four-wheel-drive vehicle, the transportation department, the maintenance department, so we were able to get all the children home.
“We did have two students from Taylorsville Elementary that one of the teachers came back to get and ended up spending the night with those two students and her sister at her sister’s house because [the students] lived some distance away from the school and the parents couldn’t get to the school and we couldn’t get to the parents. Big applause for that teacher who took that on to take care of those kids.”
He said about the most concentrated area of difficulty for transporting students was at South Central Middle School and Woodland Middle School, with about 30 to 40 students awaiting transportation. When students were unable to make it home, they were returned to their school of origin, and for those stuck at school into the afternoon and evening, there was food service staff on site to provide food.
While students eventually made it to their destination by about 9 p.m., Harper said, some buses did not.
“Once we halted bus transportation when we saw the roads were impassable, that cars could make it to places where our buses could not, we still had four buses that are off on the side of the road that we’re going to have to get back on the road in the next day or so,” Harper said. “... We just try to keep our kids safe and it looks like that’s what happened [Tuesday].”
Both school systems will remained closed today.