The 2017-18 school day schedule has been extended from 3:25 to 3:35 PM by Cedar Shoals Principal Ms. DeAnne Varitek.
“At 3:25 last year, when I looked out my window, from my office, there was not one bus,” said Varitek.
In the 2016-17 year, the bell was consistently held simply because the buses were not there.
“That was shocking for me. I have worked for three other school districts, and when the bell rings all of the buses are there,” said Varitek.
Problems arose because elementary school students were being dropped off too slowly. If dropping off elementary students always takes too long, then the buses will always be late, and students will either be standing outside in the sun or the rain or will be held in class for a long time.
“The principals and the administrators all hung out afterwards and we talked about the transportation issue,” said Varitek.
They discussed the issue and figured that a conversation needed to be had with the elementary school, but this has not happened. The end result was extending the school day.
The extension has also helped reach toward a seven-hour school day, increasing the amount of instructional time in classrooms.
“We were already doing less than a seven-hour day, and there are correlations between the amount of time and the achievement for schools. Where would I rather have students: sitting on the sidewalk doing nothing for 10 minutes, or in class learning for 10 minutes safe?” said Varitek.
Ms. Elizabeth Haas, Math Department, said, “I think it’s great. I get 10 extra minutes with my students, and it allows us to get more time in the afternoon for buses to arrive so kids don’t have to stand out in the blazing sun.”
Ten minutes may not seem like much, but it has had an effect on the entire Cedar community. Embreanna Hopkins, 10th grade, says that the change has impacted her personal schedule.
“I really don’t like it, because some people have other things to do like doctor appointments or after school practices, and if they’re late to it, they can be penalized and not have a game,” said Hopkins.
For those students whose work schedules have been impacted because of the change, Varitek says that she has written letters for students explaining the release times to employers. She also urges students to talk to their counselor if employers do not understand.
Clarke Central High School did not choose the extension even though they have similar bus problems.
“It has impacted my schedule,” said Ms. Brittany Moore, English Department. “For example, there’s some days where I thought class was going to end, and I had planned it for that moment, and then I realized there were five more moments and I had to pull something out.”
“On a day to day basis, it’s kinda hard to get used to. I’m used to classes ending at a certain time, and that’s what I prepare for. Now I have to get used to a new system and change is hard but I’m dealing with it.”
At the end of the day, bus dismissal is much smoother than it used to be.
“There are a majority of buses out there at bus call and that is the goal,” Varitek said.