LIVERPOOL - Students at a middle school and high school in Liverpool may get to sleep in a little later next year.
Parents, administrators, educators, board members and students met at South Queens Middle School (SQMS) Dec. 5 to discuss proposed changes to start and stop times at that school and Liverpool Regional High School (LRHS).
“Start and stop are the instructional bell times,” explained Brian Smith, director of operations for the South Shore Regional School Board (SSRSB).
There are a couple of bells that ring in the morning currently, and the instructional bell signals when students are expected to be in the classroom. If the changes are put into action, students from Grade 6 to 12 would start 35-50 minutes later.
Currently, South Queens Middle School starts at 7:41 a.m., the high school begins at 8 a.m. and the bell at Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy rings at 8:45 a.m. The proposal is for SQMS to start at 8:30 a.m., LRHS to start at 8:35 a.m. and Dr. John C. Wickwire to remain the same, said Smith.
One reason to implement a later start time is because research shows starting school later in the morning is better for adolescent learning, said Smith.
Changing the start and stop times at the middle and high school would also allow for a one-run system, which Smith said would shorten the travel time for students who live furthest away.
Presently, there’s a two-run system. First, middle and high school students are dropped off, and then the buses pick up the Primary to Grade 5 students and drop them at school.
“Stronger student, driver and parent relationships could be a result of this change,” he added.
With the proposed changes, bus drop off and pick up would be the same, and parent drop off and pick up would also be the same, he said.
“There would be a slight increase in bus traffic at the schools because now we would have all 14 buses,” he said.
Gilbert Jackson, transportation analyst with the SSRSB, also spoke at the meeting. He said students who live furthest away would not be on the bus as long.
“The current system, we have seven students that are on the bus for over 75 minutes; the new system, we’re not going to have any,” he said.
Jackson said his goal is to have students on the bus no longer than an hour.
Denise Crouse, transportation coordinator with the SSRSB, said there are rules in place to make sure all students are safe, such as mandatory seating plans and younger students sitting at the front of the bus.
Crouse also said drivers are trained in student management to decrease discipline problems and increase all students’ safety.
“Our buses are an extension of the classroom, so the rules that apply here in the school also apply on the bus,” said Crouse.
Crouse said she searched the records and there have been no school bus discipline reports from SQMS or LRHS all last year.
Following a PowerPoint presentation and formal discussion, people divided into groups to discuss aspects – including challenges – related to changes to start and stop times. Smith said each of the discussion points would be “collated verbatim” and posted to the SSRSB’s website along with the PowerPoint presentation.
Staff will now gather the information and take it to the board with some recommendations. A decision is expected in December or January. If passed, the changes would take effect in September 2018.
For more information about proposed start and end times, visit http://www.ssrsb.ca/
To see the public presentation, visit http://www.ssrsb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Liverpool-start-and-stop-times-presentation-for-public-consult-Dec-5.pdf.
To see the public consultation written comments, go to http://www.ssrsb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Dec-5-Liverpool-Public-input.pdf.