WCS school buses

Though the Williamson County Schools district is still wrestling with the issue of a bus driver shortage, that is not the cause of students having to stand on some buses as it was pointed out at the most recent County Commission meeting. 

That’s according to WCS Superintendent Jason Golden, who briefly addressed the concern during Thursday night’s Board of Education work session. He said he wanted to clarify an issue that was brought up at Monday’s commission meeting regarding reports of students having to stand on buses in some cases.

District 3 County Commissioner Keith Hudson had raised concerns of student safety after having received emails from concerned parents about students being forced to stand on school buses due to overcapacity. Golden said at the work session that the issue isn’t about a lack of buses on designated routes, but rather about ensuring drivers are fully trained. 

“The issue there wasn’t about overcrowded buses,” Golden said, adding that the district has both 84- and 70-seat buses. “It was about us making sure we train our drivers to tell students they’re going to sit down before this bus moves.”

The district currently has 237 drivers operating on 236 routes.

“That sounds like we have enough, and it would be if we didn’t have absences each day,” Mark Samuels, assistant superintendent for Operations, said Thursday night. 

He said seven people are currently training, with a handful nearly ready to drive the routes. Another 15 are about to begin the training process.

“We continue to make some slow gains in number of drivers,” Samuels said. “We’re pretty optimistic it will pick up.”

What’s in a name?

Also at Thursday’s meeting, school board members were formally introduced to a list of three names to consider for the new middle school being constructed on Henpeck Lane near Oak View Elementary School. Members are to decide on the “winning” name at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

A naming committee met Dec. 18 and Jan. 8 to work through a list of around 120 suggestions sent by parents and others in the community, and was tasked by board policy to narrow the choices to three names. 

“When we met together as a naming committee, we not only looked at the history of the property but also took into consideration nominations that were sent to us through the feedback we received from the community,” explained Leigh Webb, WCS assistant superintendent, Secondary Education.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a motion will be made for the first name and members will vote. If it receives at least seven votes, that will be the name of the new school. If it doesn’t receive a majority of votes, the process will be repeated for the second name, and if necessary, the third name.

The naming committee provided rationale for each of the names to consider.

Legacy Middle School — Legacy Middle School is a name created to encompass courage and strength and is a nod to the “big idea” concepts of the two feeder high schools with strong meanings in their names, Centennial and Independence. The name Legacy reflects the school’s goal to build and leave a strong legacy for the future of the school, community, and district. The name reflects an opportunity to establish a new, unified legacy for students who come from all over the community. This is a non-location school name with a strong meaning. 

Oakstead Middle School — Oakstead Middle School is a combination of the two current elementary feeder school names, Oak View Elementary School and Winstead Elementary School. This name would be inclusive of both school communities as they come together in one middle school. There is strength symbolized in the word “oak” and the word “stead” means home. The location of the school is easily identifiable with the proposed name. The committee also noted that Winstead was created with students from Oak View Elementary. 

Oak View Middle School — Oak View Middle is a school name that keeps the namesake of the nearby elementary school. Oak View Elementary School is in close proximity to the new middle school property and is also located on Henpeck Lane. The location of the middle school campus is easily identifiable with this school name and the community built around the school. Oak View was a name given to the elementary school based on the natural landscape and view from the original property.

The new school is scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year.