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Open Middle School Earlier, Save $950K, Report Says

Busing study identifies big savings from small change.

A study of Hillsborough school bus schedules prepared by Transportation Supervisor Debra Espinosa discovered several options the district could use to save as much as $1.7 million annually, according to Board of Education member Greg Gillette—although some changes would be "disruptive." 

Gillette said Espinosa had asked if she could undertake a study of the district's schedules last year, shortly after she was named head of the department. He added none had been done in many years, so she was told to go ahead.

At the Jan. 16 meeting of the board's Operations Committee, which Gillette heads, Espinosa presented the results of her study, which found adjustments to school starting times could save the district by allowing more condensed bus routes and schedules.

Of the six options Espinosa provided the committee, Gillette said they decided to recommend starting classes at Hillsborough Middle School at 8:30 a.m., instead of 9 a.m., which is expected to save the district $950,000 annually.

He added a plan to change the start time at Hillsborough High School to 7:15 a.m. and Auten Road Intermediate School to about 9:35 a.m. would enable the district to save $1.7 million annually—but this was deemed the most extreme and too disruptive.

"To get anything started, we need to think about one of the less disruptive options," Gillette said.

He said if the board wants to move foreward with the plan, the next step will be obtain public comment and input on the plan.  

Yafos Bengueri January 31, 2013 at 07:37 PM
How does changing the start time(s) and having "condensed bus routes and schedules" save money? Are the drivers currently being paid to wait between school starts and that's where the savings come from..by eliminating that waiting period? And what are the start times currently for the schools in question so we can understand how "disruptive" the changes are. Thanks for the news update but this seems to leave many questions open that should have been explained somewhere in the article.
John Patten (Editor) January 31, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Fewer routes would be required, yielding the savings. The high school starts at 7:27 a.m. currently; ARIS at 9:15 a.m.
Susan Bond February 01, 2013 at 03:21 AM
I don't see how that would save money. The current system has most of the drivers flowing easily from school to school. I personally do the high school then an elementary school... then the middle school. Others in the same company, do the same.. some doing ARIS instead of the middle school. Those who do the elementary schools would not be able to get to the middle school in time in the AM since the elementary schools have a drop-off time of 8:20. Those that would be able to do the middle school would still not be able to do ARIS. I've heard what the transportation department deems a conceivable amount of travel time in this township... and I'm wondering if that same train of thought is how they're making this doable. When I received my routes they expected me to pick up at Claremont Towers at 8:25 after dropping off at Woodfern at 8:20. Yeah... by helicopter.
Tim Le February 01, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Wow! Nice study and research! Yes, nice plan to save some taxpayer's money. Getting up 30 earlier is not a big deal. That's use saved money for improving the quality of our teachers and education!
Proud mom February 01, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I don't think it is too disruptive to start the high school 12 minutes earlier. I think they should make the change.
d February 01, 2013 at 02:27 PM
How would starting later impact after school activities such as ccd? There are many who bus directly from Auten Rd to church (at an extra cost to parents) How much later would this impact our kids getting home in the afternoon to start homework, etc.
Harold Levin February 01, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Could we see evidence of fewer routes since it would still be the same number of students being transported? Is the concept to have multiple schools served by the same route at the same time? If so, this will take an incredible amount of coordination and communication to work properly.
KATC February 01, 2013 at 08:19 PM
If the change to middle school schedule alone can save us close to a million $, I am in full support. I agree that the 12 minute difference at the high school is not a big deal also, but I do think the change to the Auten Road schedule will cause an inconvenience to working parents with such a late start and the later arrival home.
Ken Hesthag February 02, 2013 at 04:00 AM
Instead of Middle School at 8:30 and ARIS at 9:30.....flip it to ARIS at 8:30 and Middle School at 9:30. Since Middle School kids could probably go to bus stop by themselves, and younger ARIS kids can't, hundreds of working parents that pay for early care or go to work late because of ARIS kids would save major money or time.
Yafos Bengueri February 05, 2013 at 09:35 PM
I still do not understand how there are fewer routes just by changing the times of the same number of schools and student.
Yafos Bengueri February 05, 2013 at 09:37 PM
I disagree that 12 minutes earlier for the high school is no big deal. These poor kids are probably the most sleep deprived people in town. Ask them if they want even less sleep. They already have to get up ridiculously early. I feel sorry for them as I hear their bus go by just when I am waking up.
Peter Passe March 06, 2013 at 01:33 PM
You obviously have no clue what happens in the schools. All of the activities after school for Middle School students like sports and debate or student council cause our students now to miss the last part of the day because they have to be dismissed early to attend the events at other schools. We are the only Middle School that ends so late now. Are we running a baby sitting service for parents or are we to educate students in the best possible way.
Deborah Cohen March 26, 2013 at 01:59 PM
I agree with Mr. Passe's comments. My daughter is at ARIS and if she were to leave a half hour later, it would seriously impact all our after school activities. In addition, it is a safety issue now for many working parents who work full time and leave their 10-12 year olds home alone for a few minutes now before school. Leaving them for much longer is a serious safety concern and needs to be avoided. I strongly and vehemently oppose the proposed change to bus and school hours.

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