Members of the Kyrene School District Governing Board hosted a study session Tuesday evening, where they discussed the idea of changing the start time of the nine middle schools across the district.
The desired outcome after the study session was for members of the audience and the governing board to gain a basic understanding of the transportation changes associated with the school start time, and to gain an understanding of the changes in start time and the impact it would have on the district.
“We have talked about this issue for quite a long time, so this is not a new conversation that has been going on around the district,” said Dr. David Schauer, superintendent for Kyrene. “We want to talk about why this change is being made, so we understand how it will better meet the needs of the school community.”
Eric Nethercutt, director of facilities and transportation, addressed the governing board with a presentation on different ways the district could approach the change in start times.
There were three different concepts highlighted during the study session: Concept A would allow all elementary schools to start at 7:45 a.m. and all middle schools to start at 8:15 a.m.; Concept B would allow all elementary schools to start at 7:45 a.m. and all middle schools to start at 8:30 a.m.; and Concept C would consider impacting only the middle schools, leaving all elementary schools at current start and end times.
Nethercutt said Concept B would be a more viable option to pursue.
If Concept B is pursued, there will be a reduction of bus stops across the six middle schools, from 574 bus stops to 421 bus stops.
“That will require some kids to walk a little further to new bus stops, and also there will be more kids to bus stops,” Nethercutt said.
Currently, many of the elementary school’s start times are 7:45 a.m., where as many middle school’s start times are at 8:15 or 9 a.m.
Nethercutt said Concept B would require more bus drivers to run routes on picking and dropping off students, which would bring full-time bus drivers to have 28 to 30 hours per week.
“We’re still working on this to see what the hours come out at, but for now this is what we believe it will be around,” he said. “We are looking at approaches for drivers to help get them more hours.”
Current bus drivers will retain their benefit eligibility despite the decrease in hours.
According to the Kyrene website, many parents and staff have expressed interest in returning to an earlier start time.
Nearly 64,000 emails were sent through the Kyrene database about the purposed time change, and nearly 130 responses were sent back, said Nancy Dudenhoefer, assistant director of community relations for the school district.
“About 75 percent are in the positive reaction,” she said.
The change in start times will be further discussed throughout the summer break, and changes will be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.
For more information about the purposed time change, visit www.kyrene.org.
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