Saturday, February 17, 2018
Opinion

Joe Henderson: Peeved at school bus schedules? Be an example to your kids

If you are the parent of a public-school student in Hillsborough County, your life might become more complicated.

Assuming the school board approves, next year the starting and closing times for schools in the district will be changed. Elementary schools will start and end 20 minutes earlier than the current time.

Middle schools will start 25 minutes later and close five minutes later than normal. High schools will start an hour later and let out 25 minutes later than now.

It doesn't sound like a lot, frankly, but any change is guaranteed to be seen by some as seismic and specifically designed to annoy the individual being affected.

I will be as gentle and understanding as I know how to be here, because that's just the kind of guy I am. But listen up — just roll with this.

Instead of venting anonymously online or storming into the next school board meeting to scream about how personally upsetting this is in your particular circumstance, put on your big-person pants.

That might be helpful for your children to see.

It is true that many parents will have to make adjustments to the plans they had already worked out to get their children to class on time.

A quick sampling of a Facebook page popular with peeved people who like to gripe a lot about the school district showed a strong negative bent after the new schedule was announced. I guess we could have predicted that.

Inconvenience is, well, inconvenient. In this case, it also was inevitable because consultants say that will save the cash-strapped district $2.7 million. Money talks.

Of course, some are no doubt wondering why they didn't find a way to save that money without creating all this hassle. I'm sure there will be the suggestion that they could save $225,000 a year by running off Superintendent Jeff Eakins, who introduced this new schedule, and then proceed to the rest of the board members.

Calm down.

On a good day, problems like juggling school start times and bus schedules for about 200,000 students make leading a district the size of Hillsborough seem like drinking from a fire hose. Dealing with those issues is why Eakins makes the big bucks though, so who cares?

Besides, this is all about you, dear inconvenienced parent. Right?

Your blood likely is boiling because that stupid school system doesn't care that you have to be at work, and now you won't be able to stay on schedule because you can't drop off Buffy and pick her up at the same times you were used to.

It messes with after-school activities, homework, jobs, and maybe even dinner time.

This could mess up the whole carpool schedule. If your child is an elementary student, you will have to get them up, ready and out the door earlier to get them to school on time for the 7:40 a.m. bell.

After they get used to it though, chances are most people will find it isn't as bad as they think.

High school students will probably like the change. They get to sleep later, and studies show they're more attentive in class when that happens. That will make their teachers happy.

This change probably is years overdue. Eakins has pointed out how the current schedule resulted in a convoluted busing scheme that had students often arriving late to class. In addition to saving money, this change is supposed to help that.

The board has been talking about this for months, so people have had plenty of warning that this change was coming. It's not personal, but it did mean a lot of people were always going to face a new normal that could be complicated.

This this is a good time to learn it's not always the other guy.

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