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The City Journals

Canyons Board of Education to study possible changes in bell schedule, middle school schedules

Oct 28, 2016 09:36AM ● By Julie Slama

Canyons Board of Education will further study a possible change to schools’ bell schedules as a way to save money on busing and possibly solve the shortage of bus drivers. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Draper, Utah - Canyons Board of Education recently asked for more study in two separate areas: a possible change in the district bell schedule at many of the schools as well as a new schedule for each of the eight middle schools.

At the Aug. 16 board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Bob Dowdle presented ways the district could save money on busing as well as possibly solve the shortage of bus drivers.

Using data from a bell-efficiency study, Dowdle said that by consolidating or piggybacking bus routes and moving start times at some schools back or forward 15 minutes, it would allow drivers more time to complete longer routes. 

Dowdle said changes would remove 21 buses from the daily operation and save up to $340,000 in bus driver labor and $360,000 in fuel and maintenance costs.

Another option, he said, would be to alter the bell times by 30 minutes to remove 33 buses from daily use. This has the potential of saving $1 million in labor, fuel and maintenance.

Consolidating bus routes would help the district hire more drivers on a full-time basis — and offer them benefits.

Canyons District Spokesman Jeff Haney said every school district in the state has an acute need for drivers.

“Bus drivers with their CDL licenses are able to find full-time employment elsewhere, leaving us in a shortage. We’ve had our office staff, including the director, leave the office to fill bus routes since we can’t hire enough part-time help. Basically, the transportation department brought forth the idea of streamlining bus services,” he said.

At this time, there is no formal proposal before the board.

“This is step two in a long process before the board considers any action,” Haney said.

Haney said input will be sought from other groups — including parents — before any formal decision is made.

Board President Sherril Taylor asked Dowdle to meet with school community councils throughout the 2016–17 school year to share the study’s findings.

In a separate issue, the board also is looking into changing the middle school schedule at all of the eight district middle schools.

Canyons School Performance Director Mike Sirois said at the Sept. 20 meeting that the middle school schedule committee has decided on four principles that will guide the development of a new schedule, those being the following: the schedule must promote teamwork and collaboration, maximize quality instruction time, provide time for all students to participate in electives and have built-in intervention.

However, it will be a challenge to find one schedule that will meet the unique instructional and social needs of all Canyons middle schools, Sirois told the board.

Even so, a proposed schedule could be presented to the board by late fall.

Haney said this is the beginning of a long process and there will be no action taken for the 2017–18 school year.

“We are wanting a collaboration from teachers as well as ensuring that we fulfill the required state board electives,” he said.