Updated April 29, 2011 - If you are looking for information on the new bell schedule for intermediate schools and middle schools for the 2011-12 school year, please visit the update page.
At the Tuesday, May 25 school board meeting, the administration presented information on a change to the intermediate school bell schedule for the 2010-11 school year.
Next year, the bell schedules for our intermediate schools will be pushed back 15 minutes to help alleviate transportation issues. The intermediate schools bell schedule will shift to an 8:15 am start time and a 3:30 pm afternoon dismissal.
Dr. Morrison had the administrative support division look into ways to resolve as many of the late issues for buses as possible. Late issues have included buses that were 20, 30, and sometimes 40 minutes, late after last dismissal bell. These problems resulted from our second bell at the elementary and intermediate schools who currently share the same start/end times.
A traditional method that was considered to solve this problem included purchasing more buses and adding drivers. This idea proved to be cost-prohibitive. (For reference, the last buses we bought for general routes cost about $100,000. To get to every campus within a 15 minute window, we would need to add 24 new regular route buses, drivers for 11 special education buses, and the required 22 special education drivers and attendants .) This solution would have required an investment of several million dollars. With this information, it was time to go back to the drawing board for a more creative approach which concentrated on the routes.
Currently, we are carrying 4,700 passengers after the second bell. (Our other bells at the middle and high schools are just about half of that number.)
We utilize all 99 general route buses to get to that second bell. Since elementary and intermediate schools are on the same bell schedule, it's just impossible to be at two places at one time. We utilize the buses that we have as effectively as possible, so we like to pick up the elementary school kids that are in the same attendance zones as the intermediate schools. We pick up both the elementary and intermediate school students, then take them to their neighborhoods. So it made sense to continue that process and transport those kids one time rather then running an elementary school route and then turning around and running a separate intermediate school route.
In researching this situation and through some careful consideration on our routes, we found that by moving the intermediate school bell schedule up by 15 minutes, we could alleviate the majority of this transportation issue. This 15 minute difference will give us the time it will take to meet the transportation needs at elementary and intermediate schools. Additionally, we determined that if families had students at both the elementary and intermediate levels this would be a benefit from a parent's driving perspective. There is also a benefit for families who have both intermediate and middle school age children because the new bell schedule closes the gap between those two levels by 15 minutes.
By moving intermediate schools to the 8:15 am - 3:30 pm bell schedule, we can best utilize our resources to get the students to their next stop.
Additional InformationWe've also had some specific questions and concerns from parents:
Q: Will the intermediate students not ride the bus with the elementary students anymore?
A: We are in the process of re-routing the majority of our routes now with the additional 15 minute window. In some limited cases because of capacity, some intermediate school buses will not have elementary students on board as well as some elementary school buses will not have intermediate students on board. This occurs under the current routing schedule. Our goal is to continue co-mingling the students in there attendance zones. Where buses are used to run both intermediate and elementary school students the bus will stop first at the elementary school.
Q: What happens with the transfer bus going from Donna Shepard Intermediate and Tarver Rendon Elementary?
A: We are working to eliminate the Tarver Rendon and Donna Shepard shuttle and instead provide direct service for Rendon students and Shepard students. This route is our toughest to cover because of the distance; therefore, we are working towards a direct service for these campuses rather than a shared solution. Additionally, the construction project planned for 1187 will cause additional time delays between the two sites.
Q: Are you changing the schedules at Tarver-Rendon and Perry Elementary?
A: There is no change to elementary school bell schedules. This option was discussed at the two campuses with the PTA, but it was later determined to not be necessary with the intermediate school bell schedule change.