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Transportation Committee to recommend split start times

The Central Valley School District’s Transportation Committee will recommend a split start schedule to the board of education at the board’s next meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

The committee determined the plan could shorten the length of bus rides at no additional cost to the district. They will propose starting grades 5-8 at 7:35 a.m., grades 9-12 at 7:40 a.m., and PreK-4 at 8:30 a.m.

Committee members weighed the option of which age group to start at the earlier time. In the end, the decision to start the middle and high schools earlier was influenced by after school activities and the opportunity to provide students with time for extra help.

“The committee looked at the number of students who participate in interscholastic sports and other after school activities. They considered class schedules and BOCES programs. They decided an early start would be best to give the greatest number of students the opportunity to participate, while taking advantage of the full range of classes and services offered,” said committee member and Central Valley Business Manager Ken Long.

Committee members also looked carefully at research showing older students stay up later and often end up shorting themselves of sleep. In the end, the potential loss of academic and extracurricular activities weighed more heavily.

The committee will recommend to the board a 7:35 a.m.-2:15 p.m. school day at Jarvis Middle School, a 7:40 a.m.-2:09 p.m. school day at Central Valley Academy and an 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m. school day at Barringer Road elementary and Fisher elementary schools.

The board of education created the transportation committee to explore ways to address concerns that bus rides were too long. A 2016 voter exit survey showed 97.2 percent of respondents felt any bus ride longer than 45 minutes was too long.

“The staggered start times will greatly reduce the number of students who ride the bus an hour or longer,” said Mr. Long.

The committee is also considering topics such as controlling future transportation costs, a fleet replacement plan, and contract transportation versus district-owned buses.

Future committees will explore district policies and curriculum.