The school day for Starr Elementary School will start at a new time for the 2013-14 school year.
Starr, which currently begins the day at 8:35 a.m., will change to 9:15 a.m. next year, the same starting time as Coy and Jerusalem Elementary schools.
Last month, plans called for Fassett Junior High School and Eisenhower Intermediate School to change their start time from 7:40 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. But now, it has been decided to keep the start times at 7:40 a.m.
“We’re pleased to say that only one school is actually changing their time,” Dean Sandwisch, the district’s business affairs director, said at a May 21 school board meeting. “So all of the elementary schools will be starting at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. That will be wonderful for professional development, just for continuity. The rest of the schools are all staying the same.”
Board member Jeff Ziviski said he has been getting calls from some parents concerned about the time it will take to drop their children off at different school buildings. For instance, Fassett Junior High School and Eisenhower Intermediate School were reconfigured for 2013-14 to cover different grades instead of both covering grades 6-8. Eisenhower was reconfigured for grades 5-6, while Fassett was reconfigured to house grades 7-8. For parents who will drop their kids off and pick them up at school each day, it could cause a problem to their routine and schedules, according to Ziviski.
“I’ve had a few concerns from the community, with Fassett and Eisenhower now being separate grade levels, and not the same levels where parents like to drop their kids off and pick them up. They’re going to have kids in both schools now, so it’s going to make it a little more difficult to drop one off, get to the other one, keep the family time that they have and the current schedules they have. They’re concerned about that.”
P.J. Kapfhammer said the time difference is not too great.
“Quite truthfully, it would be a bigger dilemma if it was a 30 or 45 minute difference, then I have to drop one kid off and wait around and then drop the other one off,” said Kapfhammer. “Here’s the thing. It’s about a 10 minute difference, no matter how the traffic is between the two schools. You drop one off 10 minutes early. This isn’t going to be a perfect system. To me it’s more convenient. It’s only a 10 minute window. If it had been a 30-40 minute window, what do they do with the extra time?”
“We do have breakfast available,” said Sandwisch, “so I think it’s going to be more calm in the morning because they’ll have a space to go in the cafeteria, have breakfast there, then leisurely make it to their classes on time. The buses are going to be doing the exact same thing that the parents are going to be doing.”
Ziviski said a 10 or 15 minute difference in start times may have been better for some of the parents.
“P.J. talked about 40 minutes. Obviously, we wouldn’t have set it up that way,” said Ziviski. “But why not a 10-15 minute difference? What would that have done, what complications would that have thrown to the bus schedule?”
“It would have added another tier to the bus schedule,” said Sandwisch. “Believe me, that’s the most complicated puzzle in the district. And we fight with times every year. And all of that has to do with our time available to run the routes. By adding a 15 minute differential there, it would have added another tier. I know it wouldn’t’ have been possible.”
There will be an additional 12 stops for Clay High School students added to the route, said Sandwisch.
“The state funding formula will reward us for having more ridership. Three tiers are more efficient than two tiers. It is going to be a nice welcome addition for the parents of those students,” said Sandwisch.
“I definitely understand the concerns of the parents,” said Ziviski after the meeting. They have a unique opportunity to see their kids off to school and pick them up each day. That can give you another hour or two each day with your child. After looking at the logistics involved in setting the bus schedule, the best schedule was the one that was approved. Changing the time by a few minutes would have affected the entire schedule. It would have possibly impacted other schools’ start times, and possibly could have resulted in several more buses to be added to the routes, and without a doubt, would have added cost to the district.”