WARSAW — The Warsaw Community Schools Board of School Trustees heard a presentation regarding data on bus routes and school bell times during a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Griffin Scott, a project manager for School Bus Consultants, presented a report reviewing 2017 data on WCS’ school bus routes and efficiency. The firm is an advisory services group that consults school corporations on aspects such as bell time changes and bus routes and scheduling.
During the discussion, Scott presented five alternative scenarios for potential changes to bell times and school bus deployment. Each scenario was presented with pros and cons.
The first scenario focused on two tiers, the first being for the corporation’s elementary schools and the second for secondary schools. The start bell time for the first tier would be between 7:35 to 7:55 a.m., with secondary schools beginning the day between 8:50 and 9 a.m. According to Scott, upsides to this scenario would be a later start time for secondary schools and the amount of time between afternoon runs for bus drivers. Downsides include elementary students potentially being picked up as early as 5:50 a.m.
The second scenario would set the start bell time for elementary schools between 7:35 to 7:55 a.m., with secondary schools beginning the day between 8:35 and 8:45 a.m. The difference between this scenario and the first is taking advantage of available time between pick-ups for each tier. Pros and cons would remain about the same with the exception of slight changes in times for bus drop-off.
The third scenario would split all Warsaw schools into three tiers, with start times between 7:35 to 9:30 a.m. In this scenario, the middle schools and high school would have later start and end times. According to Scott’s presentation, this would possibly reduce buses through consolidation, but would also greatly affect elementary students’ pick-up time, high school students’ release time, and bus driver hours.
The fourth scenario would simply shift bell times 30 minutes later in the day, with secondary schools starting between 8 and 8:10 a.m. while elementary schools’ morning bell times would be between 9:30 to 9:50 a.m. Scott said the only issue with this scenario would be elementary students possibly not getting home until 6 p.m.
The fifth and final scenario combined all Warsaw Community Schools into a single tier, with start times between 8:20 and 8:50 a.m. One downside: A majority of buses would no longer be able to complete an elementary and secondary run. The scenario would also require an additional 29 buses and drivers for the school corporation.
WCS Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said a survey will be issued after the corporation’s December break in order to get feedback from parents and community members about potential solutions.
“We’re going to take a look at three options, one of which being keeping things just the way they are now,” said Hoffert. “We’re also looking at Option Four, which would be pushing everything back by 30 minutes.”
Hoffert said the second scenario Scott presented is the final option being considered, with the exception of pushing the suggested times forward 30 minutes.
“We’re planning on sending the survey out in January and it’ll be open for about two weeks,” said Hoffert. “It’ll be sent out through SchoolMessenger and through press releases to media outlets. We want to make sure this reaches staff, students and community.”
In other business, it was announced that Feb. 17 will serve as the make-up day for schools’ cancellation on Nov. 19.
The board also discussed multiple ways that school delay and cancellation criteria can be found for the school corporation. Delay and cancellation information can be found on the school’s website at www.warsawschools.org under the school delay and cancellation link. SchoolMessenger is another option that allows people to receive school-specific and district notifications. The free mobile app can be downloaded at http://go.schoolmessenger.com. Click sign-up inside the app and use the e-mail address used during registration and inside PowerSchool.
The board’s next work session will be at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7. The next regular meeting session will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20.