Would you be wiling to send Wake County elementary students to the bus stop before 7 a.m. in order to flip schedules around to start high schools later in the day?
School transportation officials presented a model last week of what things could look like if high schools were to start after 9 a.m. But the model would involve flipping around the three-tier bus system so that some elementary schools start at 7:25 a.m.
It's not an option that most school board members are considering, at least for this fall. Whether there's interest down the road remains to be seen.
Wake operates a three-tier bus system, meaning the majority of Wake's 900 buses run multiple routes in the morning and afternoon to save money. Most high schools are now on the first tier with most elementary schools on the third tier.
For years, national researchers have argued that teens need more sleep, something that's hard to get when most high schools in Wake now start at 7:25 a.m.
Current and past school boards have batted around the idea of inverting the tiers for years without much actual change. But last week, administrators gave an example of how it could work.
High schools could move to the third tier to operate from 9:15 a.m. to 4:08 p.m But because of the tier system, some elementary schools would need to move to the first tier and operate from 7:25 a.m. to 1:55 p.m.
This tier inversion would be possible if the school board came up with the $748,000 to hire 25 new bus drivers.
If Wake came up with the $748,000, the idea has been to put schools back on the 2008-09 bell schedules that were used before changes were made this school year to handle the Wednesday early dismissals. But administrators said the board could also flip the tiers with that same amount.
School board member Deborah Prickett was all for flipping the tiers to start high school later.
But school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman said she's concerned about the impact the later times would have on afternoon jobs for teenagers.
Bob Snidemiller, Wake's senior director for transportation, said the board would also have to weigh the impact on athletic schedules if high schools ended later in the day.
Goldman said she's hoping that once Wake goes to community assignment zones that they might be able to compress school schedules into two tiers.
Click here for the handout from last week's committee of the whole meeting.
The blue sheet is the schedule that could be used for 2010-11 if the money is found to hire the 25 new bus drivers.
The pink sheets show what would have to be done to elementary school schedules to move the first tier high schools to the third tier. While not included in the handout, staff said they also developed models showing what would happen if they moved second tier high schools that now start around 8 a.m. to the third tier.
The green sheet shows how Wendell and Zebulon elementary schools were shifted to the first tier this school year to allow East Wake High to start later.
The white bell schedule sheet shows what's being recommended by staff for 2010-11. It would start most elementary schools at 9:30 a.m. this fall.
The final sheet in the handout shows how Transportation cut out the $748,000 to save money for the coming fiscal year, leading to the recommended bell schedule.