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Pasco School Board scales back 10:10 a.m. start times

The changes are set to take effect in the fall.
A Pasco County Schools bus driver negotiates a turn while at the South Compound April 1, 2022 in Odessa. The school district has attempted several initiatives to get students to classes on time while coping with a bus driver shortage.
A Pasco County Schools bus driver negotiates a turn while at the South Compound April 1, 2022 in Odessa. The school district has attempted several initiatives to get students to classes on time while coping with a bus driver shortage. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published May 18|Updated May 18

LAND O’LAKES — The Pasco County school district’s unpopular 10:10 a.m. start time is winding down for the fall.

The School Board on Tuesday reduced the number of campuses that will begin classes at that time to six elementary and four alternative schools, down from two dozen that shifted to 10:10 a.m. in January. Officials said they would continue to seek ways to further cut the number of campuses with the late starts.

“I’d like to see every one of them changed, if not exactly to where they were (before), to much closer,” board member Alison Crumbley said. “10:10 a.m. is brutal.”

The board authorized the move for the second semester as it attempted to reduce the number of buses that persistently arrived late for classes daily, a result of a driver shortage. The change allowed the district to cut its routes by 60, requiring fewer drivers.

Related: Pasco School Board approves plan to change start times

After the new times took effect, the district continued to experience late buses, although sometimes in different locations than before. Meanwhile, many families expressed discontent with the altered schedules.

Assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn said the transportation department took steps to revamp the model again for the fall. The approach included elimination of bus rides for middle and high school students who live two miles from campus or closer, and also further revision of bus routes.

Instead of scheduling schools at a time by their grade levels, Kuhn said, the staff examined how to make the most efficient use of buses regardless of school type. That allowed for the reduction of the late times for all but the schools that have the biggest zones to cover, she said, either because of attendance boundaries or special education programs.

“We looked at what we could actually do,” Kuhn explained.

At one point, some families asked the district to consider having high schools starting later in the mornings, and elementary schools earlier, basing their arguments on sleep research. Superintendent Kurt Browning said he would have considered the idea under more normal circumstances, but with the district still struggling to find enough bus drivers it was not the right time to do so.

The district continues to look for more drivers, and is preparing to have negotiations about how to increase driver pay.

In other business, the School Board:

  • Ratified tentative contract agreements providing 4 percent across-the-board supplements to teachers and support staff. Employees are scheduled to vote on the deals on Wednesday.
  • Approved a $1 billion project list that it will ask voters to consider in a November referendum to extend the Penny for Pasco sales tax. The list includes three new schools and a new school complex, reconstruction at Gulf Middle and West Zephyrhills Elementary, and major athletic facility renovations at eight high schools.
  • Held a public hearing on revisions to the student code of conduct, including making the dress code more gender neutral. Two speakers raised concerns about rules that would allow students to be questioned in some instances without parents being informed. No vote was taken.

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