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"This Is Parkway" Digital Magazine

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Possible revision to school times

I will be asking the board of education to make an adjustment in our schools’ starting and ending times at the board meeting on Wednesday, September 21. Our transportation department has made a supreme effort to make the current schedule work for students, but it simply doesn't.

As you may remember, last year after considerable research by Project Parkway, the school board elected to push back the middle school start times by about an hour and also lengthen the elementary school day by 20 minutes to bring it in line with the secondary schools. The changes were a step in the right direction for students, but they have put a substantial strain on Parkway’s transportation system.

Why are we having these problems? Like most large school districts, Parkway is committed to a three-tiered bus system. Click here for a narrated visual presentation with more details about the three-tiered system. You will see that buses generally need 45 minutes between start times.

When the current plan was developed (click here for background from March 2011), Parkway reduced the amount of time between the tiers in response to community input and to create school times starting around 8 a.m. and ending before 4 p.m. In spite of our best efforts, about 35 percent of our students are late getting to and/or from school. This is unacceptable. 

What’s the answer? The changes outlined below require the first tier schools to start a little earlier and those on the second and third tiers to start later (between 5 and 10 minutes). This will give our bus drivers enough time to get all students to and from school safely and on time, and maximize the instructional day for students.

               Tier I Schools
Moving from:    7:45 a.m. - 2:40 p.m.
Moving to:        7:35 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

               Tier II Schools
Moving from:    8:15 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.
Moving to:        8:20 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.  

               Tier III Schools
Moving from:    8:55 a.m. – 3:50 p.m.
Moving to:        9:05 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Ideally, Parkway would not have the constraints posed by a three-tiered bus system. On a two-tiered system, all schools could start after 8 a.m. and dismiss before 4 p.m. However, that would require 50 percent more buses and drivers, and cost approximately $3 - $4 million more per year than the current approach.

When will this go into effect? I am recommending we implement the changes on Monday, October 17. This will give everyone—schools, parents, and staff—time to make adjustments. We realize this change may present difficulties for some, but unfortunately believe it is necessary for the good of our students.