05/30/17 — Schools look at changing schedule

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Schools look at changing schedule

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on May 30, 2017 6:57 AM

The Wayne County Board of Education will gather more information before acting on proposed changes to school schedules, board members said at a work session last week.

David Lewis, the schools' assistant superintendent for accountability/information technology, presented the proposed changes to the board last Tuesday. The changes would alter opening and closing times at nine schools, many of them in the northern part of the county. Those times would also alter how early classes begin.

Northeast, Northwest and Fremont STARS elementary schools would see their start and end times pushed back half an hour, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:45 p.m.

Norwayne Middle and Charles B. Aycock High, on the other hand, would start 30 minutes earlier, both beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 2:45 and 2:30 p.m., respectively.

The changes to those schools are intended to establish a tiered bus system in the northern feeder pattern. This means that the staggered start and end times between each school level allow for one bus to carry elementary, middle and high school students during the same day.

Board members expressed concern that the changes could lead to elementary school children having to get on the bus unattended in the mornings. While safety is a priority, at-large representative Raymond Smith asked the board to clarify exactly what it wants the transportation department to accomplish.

"The goal has to be established before we can put together any program that's going to be satisfactory to meet a particular goal," he said. "The issue boils down to, is our goal efficiency, the greatest efficiency possible, or is our goal customer service?"

The two, Smith said, are polar opposites, as what is technically the most efficient is inevitably going to leave some people dissatisfied.

Trying to find a middle ground is a good idea, Smith said, but the board needs to define a clear goal for the district to reach before anything can get done.

School system transportation officials have said that a tiered system is a good option for making the bus system more efficient and combating driver shortages. Similar tiers are already in place elsewhere in Wayne County.

Four other schools would also be impacted. Carver Elementary and Eastern Wayne Elementary would have their schedules pushed back by 15 minutes, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:45 p.m. Rosewood High would see 15 minutes added to the end of the school day, resulting in a 3:30 p.m. release, and Spring Creek Middle School's day would begin 15 minutes earlier, beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 2:45 p.m.

Those changes are intended to provide more space between existing bus tiers, so that bus drivers are able to make it from one route to another on time.

By the end of the discussion, the board agreed that waiting on any changes would be the prudent thing to do. The school system recently implemented commercial driver's license requirements for new custodians, instructional assistants and cafeteria workers, which is expected to improve the driver shortage issue.

The board members were in agreement that waiting to see the results of that program would be a good idea before making significant changes.