Friday, September 21, 2018
Education

Hillsborough school times will likely change in August

TAMPA — School hours will likely change in August for thousands of children in the Hillsborough County Public Schools.

No details are available yet, and district leaders are seeking input from parents, students and teachers before they decide anything.

But district officials expect they will bring the issue to the School Board for a vote in April or May. That way, parents will have the summer to make any needed adjustments.

At issue is an existing schedule that does not leave enough time for drivers to get children to one school and then pick students up for the next.

"We need to make sure we don't have students who are arriving late to school every day," said spokeswoman Tanya Arja.

Groups of people who would be affected by the changes will soon begin to meet at numerous schools around the district to discuss options, Arja said.

The Gibson Consulting Group, hired in 2015 to find ways to save money, recommended assigning each bus and driver to three schools: Typically a high school first, then elementary, then a middle school.

Gibson found that almost half the district's drivers have only one or two schools. The reason: High school typically begins at 7:33 a.m. while elementary school begins at 8 a.m. And there are variations at the magnet schools.

For the system to work, Gibson wrote, there should be at least an hour between each school run.

But while making those changes can save the district an estimated $2.7 million a year, Arja said, "our main focus and our largest concern is getting students to school on time."

About 90,000 of Hillsborough's 214,000 students ride the bus. That number is expected to change in August, when the district cuts out busing for families who live within two miles of their middle and high schools. Similar changes to elementary school transportation will take effect in August of 2018.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.

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