Local News

Cumberland County Seeks Solution to School Bus Shortage

Posted August 12, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It's a problem lots of school systems are dealing with: more and more students, less and less money. But Cumberland County may have come up with a solution. Itcouldall be resolved by 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 return to school is imminent. For some students, the return will start an hour earlier this year.

Dr. William Shipp, principal of Westover High, says the school day might 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 to getting 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 buses which in the long run could save the school system here a lot of money.

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

The idea of doubling up bus loads started last year when the state loaned Cumberland County five buses to help the system get through the 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 the school system didn't have. But, starting the school day early will save Cumberland County 9 buses and could drive the push to save even more.

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

Photographer:Mike Joyner andBrian Shrader