Changed start times com­ing to Car­bon­ear, As­cen­sion sys­tems

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

Cost sav­ing

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

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Car­bon­ear Academy is one of a num­ber of schools that will ex­pe­ri­ence changes to its start times next year.

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