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New Bell Schedule: APS Touts Improved Safety, On-Time Arrival, Efficiency

Earlier elementary school start could have 800 of the district's youngest students being picked up by the bus before 6:50 a.m., but APS says advantages of changes, including cost savings and improved ride times for special needs students, are numer

The third notable item with relation to Midtown and the Grady cluster to come from this week’s Atlanta Board of Education meeting was discussion surrounding a potential adjustment of transportation schedules and school day start and end times for all Atlanta Public Schools’ elementary, middle and high schools, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.

What Are Your Thoughts On The Proposed New APS Bell Schedule? Join in the conversation.

As Midtown Patch reported from last week’s APS safety and transportation meeting at Grady High School, APS Director of Transportation John Lyles presented a plan for "Detailed Current vs. Proposed Bell Schedules."  

Wrote Midtown parent Sherri Caldwell last week:

Lyles outlined the disadvantages of the current transportation schedule, which has APS buses running elementary, middle and high school routes on 15-minute intervals, leaving little time for the intricacies of Atlanta traffic and no room for inevitable "glitches" that routinely occur to delay timely service. Disadvantages of current schedule: Student safety, lost instructional time, students late for breakfast, faculty late dismissal, inconsistent arrival times, and long rides for special needs students.

According to Lyles, "We can leave things the way they are, but we would need to have dedicated bus schedules and buses for the high schools. This would require 50 new buses, at a cost of about $100,000 each. APS would prefer to spend that money in the classrooms."

Advantages of new schedules: Improved student safety, improved on-time arrival, improved breakfast participation, improved ride times for special needs students, and avoid adding 50 new buses.

Changes at the elementary level would include moving the start of the school day up 15 minutes, from 8 a.m. Bell to 7:45 a.m. Bell, with a 2:15 p.m. Dismissal, instead of 2:30 p.m. The a.m. Bus Drop Off at elementary schools would be 7-7:15 a.m.; students would arrive home earlier in the afternoon, by 2:25 p.m.

At the middle schools, the start of the school day would be pushed back 20 minutes, from 8:45 a.m. Bell to 9:05 a.m., with Dismissal at 4:05 p.m., instead of 3:45 p.m. The a.m. Bus Drop at middle schools would remain the same, 8:35-8:50 a.m., with additional time for Breakfast before the 9:05 a.m. Bell.

At the high schools, the a.m. Bell would be 15 minutes later, from 8:15 a.m. currently to 8:30 a.m. Bell, with afternoon dismissal 15 minutes later, at 3:30 p.m. instead of 3:15 p.m.

As tweeted by the APS Twitter account @apsupdate from this week’s meeting, here is Lyles’ presentation to the Board this week, as well as a brief discussion amongst a few board members.

Bell Schedule Presentation now being presented by John Lyles, Director of Transportation for APS.

Goals of changing the bell schedule is to improve students safety, improve on-time arrival and improve efficiency.

Difference between current and proposed:

Current Elementary Start is 8am, proposed 7:45. High 8:15am, proposed 8:30am. Middle 8:45am, proposed 9:05am.

Current Elementary end time is 2:30pm, proposed 2:15pm. High 3:15pm, proposed 3:30pm. Middle 3:45pm, proposed 4:05pm.

Bell schedule APS has now is inconsistent with all other bell schedules in metro Atlanta. Cobb, Clayton, Henry, DeKalb, Savannah, Gwinnett, Muscogee, Augusta, Cherokee County all have similar bell schedules as to the one being proposed by APS.

Disadvantages of current schedule is student safety, lost instructional time, students late for breakfast, faculty late dismissal, inconsistent arrival times, long rides for special needs students.

Schools at various grade levels share buses, which means that a glitch in the elementary drop off trickles all the way to high school.

Advantages of new schedule is improved on-time arrival, improved breakfast participation, we avoid adding 50 buses next school year and there is improved ride times for special needs students.

Below are brief post-presentation comments from board members Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, Nancy Meister, and Brenda J. Muhammad.

Kinnane: This feels very early for elementary.

Meister: So we’ll be picking these kids up at 6:45am?

Lyles: We are looking at 800 that would be picked up prior to 6:50am.

Muhammad: We have two different issues here. One would be a time change for the school. The other is a time change for the buses.

The proposals will be presented to the Atlanta Board of Education in February and March, with Phased-Program Implementation July 1, 2013 - December 13, 2013.

The APS contact regarding the School Safety and Transportation Focus Group Sessions and Proposals is Nicole Knighten, Associate Superintendent’s Office of External Affairs. Contact at 404-802-2859 or nnknighten@atlanta.k12.ga.us.

sw January 20, 2013 at 09:30 AM
why do you capitalize the word bell? it is not a name it is a noun.

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