Wake County Schools

Parents: Wake bus changes would disrupt morning for students, volunteers

Posted February 14, 2012 5:31 p.m. EST
Updated February 14, 2012 6:20 p.m. EST

— Wake County school officials said Tuesday that they have already received more than 6,000 comments from parents on a proposal that would change bus schedules and reduce the numbers of routes.

The Wake County Public School System posted the survey on its website last week to gather public comment on the changes proposed for the 2012-13 school year.

Parents can review what's planned for their assigned schools and offer their feedback until Thursday.

The school board is expected to revisit the plans at its Feb. 21 meeting. Any changes to next year's bell schedule must be in place by the end of March.

Administrators say the proposed changes would increase efficiency and accommodate growth while reducing the bus fleet by 112 buses, saving approximately $6 million. The move also would restore school transportation efficiency to 99 percent, preserving $4 million in state revenue.

The district would cut back on the number of tiered bus routes, lengthen bus runs and increase the number of students on each run.

Broughton High School in Raleigh, for example, would start 40 minutes earlier; Holly Springs Elementary School would dismiss students nearly an hour later, around 4 p.m.

At Briarcliff Elementary School in Cary, their school day would start and dismiss nearly an hour later.

Briarcliff parent Kari Moncrief said her children would not be sleeping in during that extra time.

"They're up early. They're ready to go, and especially starting kindergarten," Moncrief said. "The morning, it's the time when they're going to learn the most, and when half the morning's gone – starting at 9:25 a.m. – their clock is going to be a little bit off."

Fellow Briarcliff parent Teresa Leavens has concerns about her 9-year-old son Elliot's body clock as well, but she's also worried how the change will impact parent volunteers at the school.

Leavens, who works full-time at North Carolina State University, said the morning is the best time for her to volunteer.

"I tend to do it first thing in the morning, prior to going to work," Leavens said. "That will be one of the biggest impacts for me, trying to fit that into my schedule in addition to work."

Leavens coordinates the volunteers for Briarcliff's enrichment and tutoring programs. Half the parents who volunteer work outside the home, she said.

"I'm concerned that if it impacts their work schedule, we may be less likely to find parents to come in, and we really do need them involved in our program," Leavens said.

Some parents say they wished they knew about the proposed bell changes before they made their school choices.

Parents have until Feb. 24 to rank their choices before school staff place students. They will be notify parents by March 16.