On December 9, the Butts County School System unveiled its new tool to improve literacy in the county – the BCSS Express – a mobile library that is really much more of a mobile education space with a zone distribution of meals, WIFI, Chromebooks, indoor and outdoor learning spaces, books and puppets.
Funding for the personalized school bus comes from the $ 3.9 million Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) grant the school system received in 2020 to support literacy in the community for the next five years. . Other plans for the grant, which equals $ 783,465 per year for five years, include one book per month for children 0 to 5 years old and providing each teacher with a classroom library.
Superintendent Dr. Todd Simpson introduced the BCSS Express to a special panel of guests at the Rufus Adams Auditorium – representatives from each of the elementary and middle school student advisory groups. He told the students a bit of the story of the literacy effort in the county to the students.
“About six years ago, we started to figure out how we can improve literacy in our school district and our community,” said Simpson. “Improving literacy is a complex, multi-faceted challenge for communities across our country and around the world.
“We created a literacy task force and had our first meeting a little over two years ago. We had about 70 community members who came forward and wanted to join in this effort to build a strong community of readers in Butts County. When it comes to children’s literacy, we know it starts with a solid foundation.
“We started with this idea of creating a mobile library to be a link between the community and the schools, to be a link between the community and the library, and to make sure that we intended to build a campaign of visible literacy. “
Simpson said the bus project started nearly two years ago, but the pandemic threatened to shut it down until community members stepped in to help.
“It’s a really special tool,” he said. “It represents a lot of collaboration. We started two years ago with the bus and a blank slate, then we came up with the wrap theme, then the pandemic hit, and that put the brakes on things. Our high school construction class was working on it and they put it on hold. T&M Trailer Sales stepped in and helped.
“Many local talents participated in the development of the theme which was finalized, and I would like to thank Sheriff Gary Long. He actually paid for the bus to be packed.
“Brian Worley did the inside of the bus for us. When you walk inside, it takes your breath away. It’s nice. United Way, Central Georgia EMC, and Dollar General donated books.
“The vision for this bus is that it will be on the road all summer long,” Simpson added. “It serves a dual purpose. We can do our summer feeding program in the back of the bus and serve meals in the back. We can do parenting classes, a myriad of activities where we give lessons, and we can do a little theater on the bus with a puppet show set up in the back. This will be a visible sign of the priority this country has placed on literacy.
After the presentation, everyone came out to cut the Butts County Chamber of Commerce tape for the bus, followed by a mini-lesson for the students, who sat on roll-up mats under an awning attached to the bus, followed by tours of Le bus.