Changed start times coming to Carbonear, Ascension systems
Feeder schools in the Carbonear Collegiate and Ascension school systems will experience a change in start times when school opens in September.
Primary and elementary schools from Victoria to Bay Roberts will see their school day start earlier and end earlier under the new regulations being brought in by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.
That means Amalgamated Academy (Bay Roberts), Persalvic Elementary (Victoria), Carbonear Academy, St. Francis (Harbour Grace), St. Peter’s (Upper Island Cove) and Holy Redeemer (Spaniard’s Bay) will be affected.
Meanwhile, the coming changes mean high school students might get that extra half hour of sleep they so desperately crave during the week.
Carbonear Collegiate and Ascension Collegiate will be starting later.
The changes come as the bus contracts for these schools come up for renewal, according to NLESD assistant director of education Tony Stack.
“We have a number of bus contracts that date back to 2006 which are expiring this year,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to look at the system for efficiencies. Where possible, we feel that double bus runs must be utilized which would mean some bell time adjustments in order for schools to have double runs.”
The move to change start times and bus runs for the schools is not sitting well with some parents.
Carbonear Academy school council chairman David Kennedy said their main issue is the way parents were informed about the decision.
“The major concern here is that the board is implementing such a big change, with the amount of change depending on the family, and only allowing parents or students to note their concern to school administrators with only game changers being looked at,” he said. “The board is also noting that the change has worked in other school zones and believe it will work here although the geographics and road systems are significantly different.”
Meanwhile, St. Francis School in Harbour Grace school council chairman Don Coombs said his parents’ concerns deal with the possibility of having young children at bus stops earlier in the mornings.
“We don’t want to see youngsters out in the morning really early,” he said. “That’s our biggest concern and that’s where we’re at.”
Kennedy looks at the length of rides that are bound to happen with the incoming changes.
“Length of bus runs — same geographical area and lesser buses equal longer rides,” said Kennedy.
The doubling up of buses are anticipated equal huge savings for the NLESD. Recent contracts have neighboured between $50,000 to $75,000 for a single run.
“We tend to find that when you do a double run it fits pretty close to the same cost,” said Stack. “For every double run you do, you multiply that and you end up with considerable savings.”
The assistant director couldn’t provide an exact number for the total savings incurred by the board, but he stressed they were high.
It should be noted, All Hal- lows Elementary in North River will not be altering its start time. The school’s bus contract does not clue up this year.
So, what happens to that money?
Stack said the plan is to reinvest the savings into the district’s core services.
“Busing costs have risen more dramatically than any other expenditure in the last 10 years, essentially doubling,” he said. “We must do our absolute utmost to ensure that our precious educational funding is focused on our core responsibilities in teaching and learning.”
Stack said the difference between this year’s start times and last year’s is between 20 and 50 minutes.
Using Persalvic as an example, he said pickups would go be from 7:15 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. depending on the size of the route.
Stack said the school district is taking suggestions for how they can possibly make the transition a bit smoother.
He noted there have been some positives relayed to them by parents. Stack noted some parents welcomed the idea of dropping their children off at school earlier and being able to get to work on time.
“We’re always open to feedback,” he said.
The new bus contracts are still going through the tender process, but Stack anticipates they’ll be in place in the coming months.
“Length of bus runs — same geographical area and lesser buses equal longer rides.” David Kennedy
Carbonear Academy is one of a number of schools that will experience changes to its start times next year.