Start Time Changes

(upbeat music) – Across the nation, there is a bus driver shortage. In the Park Hill School District, this has led to frustrating challenges. We worked with First Student on solutions, but there were still not enough drivers, so the Board voted to
move ahead with efforts to add more tiers of bus routes, which would change our start times. Because the same drivers
would be able to circle around and drive the additional
tiers of bus routes, we would not need as many drivers. We initially started our process in April to change start times, but because of overwhelming feedback from our Park Hill parents, staff members, students and community members, we decided not to change our start times for the 2019-2020 school year. Since then, our Sleep and
Start Times work group investigated research about
students’ sleep needs, and it considered how changing start times would impact our schools
and our families’ lives. Then our Start Times Advisory Committee used the research to help
come up with the ideas for a multi-tier busing model. As we look ahead to start-time changes that will begin next school year, the Start Times Advisory Committee, which consists of parents
and staff members, reviewed all of the
ideas using the criteria set by the Board of Education and narrowed them down to three groups. In the blue idea, the high
schools are in the first tier. In the orange idea, the high
schools are in the second tier. The yellow idea is a hybrid, where the high schools
were in different tiers or there were four tire options. But the committee eliminated all the ideas where there were four tiers and the ideas where the
elementary schools started first because they had too negative
of an effect on families. – But there are so many issues at play. For example, every level, elementary, middle, high school, they don’t have the same
number of minutes in their day, so that adds one layer. There are more kids at
the elementary level than there are at the middle school level, and every level has
different ridership also. – The three ideas are posted on, and you can now comment on each idea and like or comment on other
people’s thoughts as well. The advisory committee will
review all the feedback and use it to make a
list of considerations for ways to improve the
final recommendation to the Board of Education. (upbeat music) Across the nation, there is
a school bus driver shortage for districts that run
their own bus services as well as those who contract
with transportation providers like we do with First Student. Not being able to hire enough
experienced bus drivers means that we have more inexperienced, substitute drivers on our routes, and the people who would
normally be helping with customer service
calls have to fill in. Because we currently have
a two-tier framework, bus drivers have split shifts and do not get enough hours
to qualify for benefits. This has led to high turnover rates. We tried offering job-sharing
to allow bus drivers to also be district
employees to earn benefits. We also agreed to increase
driver salary schedules to help with recruitment and retention. But, unfortunately, increasing pay causes other districts to adjust, making us no more competitive. As our contract with First
Student nears an end, we will request proposals
for a new contract with all interested
transportation providers. Currently, First Student owns a bus lot at 9 Highway and 45 Highway, but we hope to get a more
competitive set of responses as we finish our own
transportation center. (upbeat music) We investigated the research
about students’ sleep needs with the help of a group of teachers, parents and administrators, known as the Sleep and Start
Times research work group. The work group looked
at several meta-analyses and many research studies and listed several findings
from its review of the data. (upbeat music) The work group also found evidence of how potential changes in start times might impact students,
families and schools. For the full report from
the Sleep and Start Times research work group, please go to – The things that I’m concerned about with my elementary school kids kind of conflict with the things I’m worried about with
my middle school kid, and so even when I’m thinking
about what plan would I want, I know that there’s going to be changes that we have to make as
a family to make it work. – We are trying our best to recruit more staff for our school-aged child
care called Adventure Club. Adventure Club will still offer the same opening and closing times, even when it adjusts
to the new start times. Rates will also remain the same. Other districts that are as
large or larger than Park Hill already have multi-tiered
bus route systems. With more tiers of different start times, we could actually hire less drivers because the same buses and drivers, once they drop off a group
of students at one school, then have time to pick up and drop off more rounds of students at more schools. (upbeat music) State law requires us to provide service to anyone that lives more
than three miles from school, and the state reimburses
us for transporting anyone who lives more than a mile away. Where there are a lack
of safe walking routes, we also offer transportation to all students, free of charge. Over the last couple of decades, costs for transportation
increased sharply, and Park Hill’s rising enrollment increased our transportation needs. During the same time, the state funding for transportation
dropped and stayed low. – And we understand on the committee that this will change
the entire community. It’s not … we’re not doing this flippantly. We’re doing it out of
necessity for economy. People expect school
districts with public dollars to really stretch those dollars and provide the best
outcomes for our kids. This is part of that goal. – To see how much money each of the advisory
committee’s ideas would save, see Again, we want to hear from you. Visit Park Hill Listens to see the three start time
options from the committee and tell us what you think. (upbeat music)

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