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Wake County Board Approves New School Bell Schedule

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Growth is not just putting pressure on Wake County classrooms, it is also straining the bus schedule.

Tuesday, the school board unanimously approved changing start times at nearly 50 elementary, middle and high schools.

At Lincoln Heights Elementary in Holly Springs, classes would start at 9:15 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m.

Some parents think there has to be a better way.

"They're saying the bus could take two hours, so he could get on a bus at 7:15 and get home by 5:45 and have two hours of homework every night," said Jacqui Parkinson, whose son attends Lincoln Heights Elementary.

Parkinson's daughter will be a sixth-grader at Fuquay Middle school. She will start classes nearly two hours earlier than her brother. Parkinson said it is an impossible schedule for working parents.

"I'm going to have to get up so early with her and then hang around for a couple of hours before I get the other one off to school. I can't see how it's going to work," she said.

Most of the school buses in Wake County run three routes a day. It takes a bus driver 45 minutes to pick up students, drop them off at school and get to another school, so transportation officials say they have to stagger dismissal times.

"Everyone wants to go to school between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. It would require an additional 921 buses at a cost of $63,000 each, and when you add in operating costs, that's $103,582,000," said Vernon Hatley, transportation director for Wake County schools.