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State helps Edgecombe with busing

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By AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Monday, July 17, 2017

The state of North Carolina recently rewarded Edgecombe County Public Schools for going the extra mile — quite literally— during the 2016-17 school year.

The school district recently received an additional reimbursement of $129,007 from the state to help cover the cost of the additional miles the school district traveled in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. No figures are currently available for the total cost of the added transportation, but early estimates were that the cost would near $300,000.

After the flooding in October fractured the school district and displaced many students, Edgecombe County Public School officials decided that adding more stress to these student by forcing them into other schools and school districts was unacceptable. So they worked out an elaborate transportation plan that would allow them to keep most of the students together.

School board members said that most of the credit for the solution goes to David Coker, director of maintenance and transportation for Edgecombe County Public Schools. Coker told the Telegram that the school district transported 117 students from five counties including Halifax, Nash, Martin, Pitt and Wilson counties to bring them to school. Nine Edgecombe County schools were affected by the displacement of students.

“We ran 54,867 additional miles on buses and also had to pick up some students on private transportation,” Coker said.

Most of these students are now out of temporary housing, though some have been forced to move out of the school district because of the lack of suitable affordable housing. Affordable housing has been a long-term problem in Edgecombe County, but the effects of the flood has exacerbated that problem.

The expanded transportation solution will not be offered to students wishing to attend Edgecombe County Public Schools next year. At a school board meeting earlier this year, former school superintendent John Farrelly told school board members that school system policy will prevent that effort from continuing.

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