While districts all over the nation are facing a shortage of bus drivers, the Park Hill School District is one step closer to moving from a two-tier busing model to a multi-tier busing model.
With an enrollment of 11,674 students, the district previously announced its plan to add more tiers of bus routes to combat the bus driver shortage and growing cost associated with operating the current bus system.
The district encompasses 11 elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools, a Lead Innovation Studio, Gerner Family Early Education Center and Russell Jones Education Center.
Earlier this year, the district was inundated with feedback from the community about the proposed school start time changes. This prompted school officials to postpone the change until the 2020-2011 school year.
In June, the district organized a Start Times Advisory Committee, tasked with creating a multi-tier busing model that considers district findings of how various start times impact sleep.
The Start Times Advisory Committee has pinpointed three start time scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year. The final three ideas, narrowed down from 32, will decrease the number of bus drivers and buses utilized to transport students to school and back home. But that’s the end of similarity of the blue, orange and yellow scenarios.
THE BLUE PLAN With high school students heading to class ahead of other students, the blue plan is a more traditional scenario. The 3,629 high school students will attend school from 7:15 a.m. through 2:23 p.m. Start and dismissal times at Lakeview and Plaza middle schools will closely follow the high school start time, while Walden and Congress Middle School will start at 8:23 a.m. and dismiss at 3:18 p.m. Four elementary schools will have start times around 8:30 a.m. and the remaining seven will begin around 9:25 a.m.
The blue three-tier busing model requires 32 fewer bus drivers and would save the district a mouth- dropping $1,354,591 a year, school officials say.
THE ORANGE PLAN The orange plan has all 2,788 middle school students and 507 elementary students attending Southeast starting around 7:33 a.m. and dismissing at 2:28 p.m. That means students as young as five-years-old would be in the dark as they wait for the bus and walk to school.
High school would begin at 8:15 a.m., which is 45-minutes later than this year’s start time. Seven elementary schools would start at 9:28 a.m., while Hawthorne, Prairie Point and Renner would begin at 8:33 a.m.
The orange busing model would require 24 fewer bus drivers and save the district an estimated $1,018,181 a year.
THE YELLOW PLAN
The yellow plan has most middle school students beginning their day at 7:15 a.m., followed by high school students who begin at 7:50 a.m.
Students at five elementary schools would attend school from 9:10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Chinn, English Landing and Hawthorne elementary schools would start 7 minutes earlier, while Line Creek, Prairie Point and Renner elementary schools would begin at 8:15 a.m.
The yellow busing model would require 20 fewer bus drivers and save the district $851,540 a year.
The community is welcome to provide feedback on the three final scenarios on the Park Hill Listens web site or attend a public meeting from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct 1 at Plaza Middle School.
As the district’s long-term contract with First Student is set to expire at the end of the school year, Park Hill will have the option to seek bids from other transportation providers for the fall of 2020.
Additionally, the district will begin construction on its own bus barn and transportation facility early next year. The district is hopeful the new facility will save the district money in the long run and expand options for additional transportation providers.
First Student currently utilizes 110 bus drivers to transport students to school and back home.