Meridian School District changes school times to ease busing problems

broberts@idahostatesman.comMay 5, 2014 

Meridian School District, looking to save money and deal with a chronic shortage of bus drivers, will change start times for middle and high schools and add time to the elementary school day next year.

The schedule:

- Middle schools will begin at 30 minutes later than this year at 8:35 a.m. (for the tardy bell) and get out at 3:25 p.m.

- High schools will begin 10 minutes sooner at 7:45 a.m. and get out at 2:42 p.m.

- Elementary schools will begin at 9:10 a.m. and get out five minutes later than this year at 3:55 p.m.

Changes in the school-day schedule will save the district $900,000 on busing.

New start and release times will reduce the need for up to 33 school buses, many of which the district finds difficult to staff because it lacks the drivers. The driver shortage has also led the school district to consider contracting out its bus service. District officials are working on a request for proposals.

New bell times will allow drivers to run multiple routes while also assuring that students aren’t waiting at the school doors for buses to pick them up. At Lake Hazel Middle School, for example, some students waited up to 40 minutes for a bus one day last week.

Some parents have complained that later release times are creating a squeeze for attending after-school activities, said Don Nesbitt, who oversees the district’s transportation system.

Meridian’s bus system transports 12,000 students annually. The district’s transportation system cost $10 million a year.

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