Tiered school schedules OK’d to start in August

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — School bells and alarm clocks will soon have to be altered as the Warren County School Board approved last week to implement tiered start times next year.

High school and middle school will start at 8 a.m., with buses picking up students at about 7 a.m. Elementary school will begin at 9 a.m. Ending times will be 2:35 p.m. for high school and middle school and 3:35 for elementary school.

Budget and the reduction of ride times are the main reasons for the decision, Schools Superintendent Greg Drescher said.

With the new middle school scheduled to open next year, the bus fleet will soon not be able to keep up with transportation needs.

If the current schedule were to continue, two new buses and drivers would be necessary, Drescher said. That would cost about $250,000.

"In a very tight budget year, that is a significant amount of money," Drescher said.

Budget constraints over the last several years have not allowed schools to replace busses which are 15 years old, as recommended by the Virginia Department of Education.

Warren County now has 16 buses recommended for replacement, Drescher said. The tiered starts will reduce the total number buses needed, and expand the fleet's lifespan.

"I would like to remind everybody that all buses are safe, they are reviewed every 45 days, and they are safe on the road," Drescher said.

The new schedule will produce shorter ride-times and deliver students to school in a more efficient manner, Drescher said.

There are now 27 routes which are over an hour, with a max ride time over an hour and a half. Some students arrive to school 50 minutes early and wait that long in the afternoon.

Parents gave feedback through an online survey, and about 1,000 people responded, Drescher said. A majority respondents preferred that the high schools and middle schools start earlier. High school students also chipped in, and were generally in favor of earlier start times.

The tiered start times will allow high school students more flexible schedules for work and sports, Drescher said.

The new bus schedules should be posted online by May 1, according to Director of Transportation Aaron Mitchell.

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