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Innovation Academy sets shuttle bus schedule

July 16th, 2014 11:59 pm by Rick Wagner

Innovation Academy sets shuttle bus schedule

BLOUNTVILLE — Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee students riding shuttle buses will be picked up and dropped off in four business parking lots for the 2014-15 school year, Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie announced Wednesday afternoon.

The pickup and drop-off points are parking lots of Kmart in Kingsport, Ingle's in Colonial Heights, Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol and Food City in the Bristol section of Blountville.

The lots were chosen as strategic points reachable by parents based on available home addresses, Yennie said. The buses will be activity buses from Sullivan North and Central high schools, and the drivers county employees, not contract employees like most other county buses.

"It seems to be resonating with folks," Yennie said late Wednesday afternoon of the locations.

All IA students are eligible to ride the shuttle buses, including those from non-city Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Tenn., Washington County and Hawkins County.

For the past two years, the students have had home or base schools to which they returned to catch a regular bus home or a ride with parents, but that is no longer the case since IA will have it own Tennessee school number this school year.

The grades 6-8 school is a STEM or science, technology, engineering and math school that after two years is moving from the former Brookside Elementary in Bloomingdale, just east of Kingsport, to a school within a school at Holston Middle School near Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

"I'm sure that will help some parents make a final decision. I'm sure there are some waiting," IA Parent Teacher Organization President Regina Rose said Wednesday afternoon of the shuttle bus announcement. "I'd like to form a car pool network for the bus drop-off points" in the afternoons.

"We'd probably work with parents" on that idea, Yennie said, adding that a written note might be required. He said the same would go for IA students riding home with Holston-zoned students on a regular Holston bus.

Rose said that was because not all parents can get off work to pick up their children in the afternoons.

Aside from the shuttle buses, parents may drive their students to and from the new IA campus. And students otherwise zoned for Holston Middle may ride their regular bus to and from IA at Holston Middle.

"Our corporate partners for these pickup points have been very accommodating and we thank Bristol Motor Speedway, Food City, Ingle's and Kmart for their support of Innovation Academy," Yennie said in a news release.

The western route in the Kingsport area will pick up at the Kmart on East Stone Drive from 7:10 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. and at Ingle's in Colonial Heights from 7:25 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., arriving at IA from 7:40 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

In afternoons, the bus will leave IA at 3:10 p.m., drop off at Ingle's from 3:20 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. and at Kmart from 3:35 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The eastern route will pick up at the North Entrance of BMS from 7:10 a.m. to 7:15 a.m., the Food City on State Route 394, in the Bristol portion of Blountville, from 7:25 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and arrive at IA from 7:40 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

That bus is to leave IA at 3:10 p.m., drop off at Food City from 3:20 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. and drop off at BMS from 3:35 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

However, the BMS pickup and drop-off will not be used during the week of the August race, Aug. 18-22, or the spring race, leaving Food City as the only pickup and drop-off during those weeks for the eastern route.

"Drop-off and pickup will take place in the area of the parking lot furthest from the businesses named," the release said.

"Students will wait in their parent's car until transferring to the bus and will move directly from the bus to their parent's car. Students will not enter the business unless accompanied by the parent after the afternoon drop-off."

Also, "Failure to pick up a student on time will result in the student being returned to Innovation Academy for parent pickup. A second incident of not meeting the bus on time will result in loss of shuttle bus privileges for that student," the release said.

As of mid-June, IA had 119 confirmed enrollments. Of those, 87 were from Sullivan, 18 from Kingsport, 10 undetermined and one each homeschooled, Hawkins County, Washington County, Tenn., and Bristol, Tenn.

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