Delaware News

District adjusts proposed bell-schedule changes

School leaders decide drastic changes aren't necessary to solve busing problems

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Delaware City School District leaders have tweaked a proposed new bell schedule after hearing feedback from board members and residents.

The district recently released a proposed schedule for 2014-15 that revealed major changes to the current schedule. The changes were deemed necessary to solve busing issues.

Under the original proposed schedule, Dempsey Middle School's start time would have been delayed 90 minutes, moving from 7:35 a.m. to 9:05 a.m.

Superintendent Paul Craft said after speaking with residents and board members, district leaders came up with a new schedule that would only slightly adjust the current schedule.

"The feedback we received from stakeholders was that we could achieve the goals we wanted to achieve without making major changes to the current schedule," he said.

The new schedule will help resolve problems with busing, separating high schoolers from middle schoolers and alleviating congestion at Dempsey Middle School in the morning.

"Basically, what we were told is that we were trying to decouple the high school students and middle school students in time, but we can decouple them in a different way," Craft said.

The current bell schedule is:

* Hayes High School, 7:25 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

* Dempsey Middle School, 7:35 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

* Willis Intermediate School, 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

* Elementary schools, 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The newly proposed schedule is:

* Hayes, 7:25 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

* Dempsey, 7:40 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

* Elementary schools, 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

* Willis, 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Planned construction at Dempsey next year will include a new turn lane outside the school, which Craft said also will help to relieve traffic congestion.

Craft said when the original schedule changes were released, some parents and students were excited about the possibility of having a much later start time for middle schoolers.

"There is some research support for later start times for teenagers, that having extra sleep can help them do better in school," he said. "We had people excited that we were moving in that direction.

"On the other hand, we had others concerned about how that will affect parents who work and can't drop their children off earlier."

Craft said some parents also were worried about their middle school students not being home in time to watch their younger siblings.

"There were issues on both sides, and we tried to balance those issues and come up with something that would be the best for everyone," he said.

The new schedule will not allow for extra buses to be available for after-school activities and to serve as backup for bus drivers who may call off sick.

However, Craft said he believes the changes will solve most other issues.

"I believe this schedule will meet the needs of the district, and according to our stakeholders, will be the best option," he said.

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