The Delaware City School District has tweaked its bell schedule for the 2014-15 school year.
The school day at the elementary schools will expand 30 minutes, with students attending class from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
At Willis Intermediate School, the morning bell will ring at 8:45 a.m. and students will be dismissed at 3:30 p.m.
Dempsey Middle School students now will begin class at 7:40 a.m. and depart at 2:40 p.m.
No changes were made to the schedule at Hayes High School, with classes beginning at 7:25 a.m. and ending at 2:30 p.m.
Superintendent Paul Craft said the schedule changes, approved earlier this month by the school board, pave the way for the new grade-level configurations that will go into effect in the next few years, as Willis closes and the elementary schools expand to hold grades K-5.
The changes also help to solve some busing issues and will reduce traffic congestion during morning dropoffs and pickups, he said.
"Our schedules are greatly influenced by the district's need to share busing and keep transportation costs to a minimum, but we also needed to address issues related to instructional time, safety, delays in bus pickups from several schools and more," Craft said.
Additionally, the district has one of the shortest elementary school days of any district in central Ohio and across the state, he said.
"Our elementary school schedule has largely been constrained within the Willis school day, so that the dropoff and pickup was within their day," Craft said. "We have extended the elementary school day by 30 minutes, which will make it more in line with the rest of the state."
Craft said separating the Hayes and Dempsey routes will mean they won't need to rotate buses between the two schools.
"Not having so many buses going between Hayes and Dempsey will hopefully reduce the traffic in all those areas," he said.
"It also means that we won't have 13-year-olds riding to school with our 17-year-old students," he said. "It will be beneficial to have some distance between those two age groups."
Craft said he believes the impact of extending the elementary school day will be minimal and said he thinks most families will consider it to be helpful.
"We also believe, when it's time, this will help for the transition of fifth-grade students back to the elementary schools, and sixth-grade students into the middle school," he said.
The new schedule also will reduce the time between class dismissal and loading students onto buses.
"As with any such adjustment, these changes will impact staff, especially our elementary and traveling teachers," Craft said. "However, we look for efficiencies where we can find them, and we believe this is one of them."