Changes to the Columbia Public School transportation schedules remain under debate. The Columbia Board of Education convened Monday to discuss, among other things, the new three-tier schedule designed to reduce the number of busses and improve the quality of service.
This schedule would push high school start times back back to 9 a.m. Middle schools and some elementary schools start between 7:20 and 7:30 a.m. The rest of elementary schools would begin at 8:20 a.m.
School Board President Tom Rose said a new school schedule will better serve the transportation needs of the growing district.
“We know that the system we have currently would not be able to serve those needs as far as having to have many more extra busses, the inability to get drivers for those busses," Rose said. "We already have problems now with that, and as far as trying to run those routes in a timely manner."
The Board of Education has looked at many options to find a solution to transportation schedules in the growing district.
Superintendent Chris Belcher said the student response was mostly in favor of the later start time rather than to an early start time at 7:20 a.m. One survey site in particular showed 355 negative responses to the earlier time as opposed to only 9 negative responses for the later start time. No option has been able to bring unanimous support from the community, and some parents are concerned how the later start times will affect the children.
"There are a lot of after school activities that kids do now that they are saying they may do before school," Doug Calhoun, Columbia resident and parent, said. "I’m not sure that starting at 9 o'clock and expecting kids to be timely about what time they go to bed the night before is a realistic expectation.”
Board members said they will continue to survey the community and attempt to find a solution that is appealing to most, but recognize that not everyone is going to be happy.
KBIA Reporter Tony Nochim also contributed to this report.