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Cumberland County Seeks Solution to School Bus Shortage

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FAYETTEVILLE — It's a problem lots of school systems aredealing with: more and more students, less and less money. But CumberlandCounty may have come up with a solution. Itcouldall be resolvedby as simple a thing as starting the school day a little bit earlier.

Summer is starting to show signs of wrapping up, which means the returnto school is imminent. For some students, the return will start an hourearlier this year.

Dr. William Shipp, principal of Westover High, says the school daymight start at 7:30 a.m.

That's the reality for students at 71st and Westover high schools.

Jennifer Whaley is a freshman. she says she's not looking forward togetting up earlier.

Freshman Debbie Bender says that first class every day might be rough.

Starting the school day a little earlier will mean using fewer buseswhich in the long run could save the school system here a lot of money.

Cumberland County School Transportation Director Phil Mullen says thecurrent system costs about $10,000 each year.

The idea of doubling up bus loads started last year when the stateloaned Cumberland County five buses to help the system get throughthe school year. This year the state said the county must pay for those buses if it wants to keep them. At $40,000 per bus, that's money theschool system didn't have. But, starting the school day early will saveCumberland County 9 buses and could drive the push to save even more.

Students at Westover and 71st High School will get out of schoolearlier too, at 2:30. If the proposed plan doesn't cause problems, the county may consider starting other area high schools on the same typeof schedule next year.

Photographer:Mike JoynerandBrianShrader

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