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The Bobcat Prowl

The Bobcat Prowl

The Student News Site of South Windsor High School

The Bobcat Prowl

Late Buses and Long Days for Elementary Students

SWHS students going to buses after school gets out in the afternoon
Ethan Sands
SWHS students going to buses after school gets out in the afternoon

Wake up. Go to school. Come home – in darkness during the winter. Eat dinner. Go to sleep. This is the daily routine of most elementary schoolers on the late school schedule.

Elementary schools in the South Windsor School District operate on a 2 & 2 staggered start time schedule, making some schools “early” and some “late”.

The current schedule has Eli Terry and Orchard Hill elementary schools begin at 8:45am and dismiss at 3:20pm. Pleasant Valley and Philip R. Smith elementary schools begin at 9:15am and dismiss at 3:50pm.

These staggered start times have a variety of effects on parents, teachers, and students alike. One of the major impacts is on transportation which, in turn, affects what time students get home from school.

According to Chris Chemerka, South Windsor Public Schools Director of Finance and Operations, cost is a large reason for the varied start times.

“Aligning all four elementary start times would require more buses to operate at the same time, which would annually increase the budget by over $1 million,” Chermerka explained in an email with The Prowl.

Though, it is a complex system and many factors contribute to the scheduling so that buses can continue to run smoothly and have accurate arrival times for each stop.

Since start times are staggered, elementary school buses can’t service all four elementary schools at the same time, meaning drivers have to finish their early school route and immediately get to the late schools to pick up a new round of students.

Most elementary schools load their buses one at a time at the end of the day, creating an additional slowdown for children getting home in the afternoon.

This loading procedure at the early schools creates a huge time delay for the second bus run, as some buses don’t arrive at late schools until as late as 4:10pm.

SWHS English teacher and parent of elementary school students in the South Windsor School district, Carmela Dahms, notes that the late schedule creates an exceptionally long day for elementary school students.

“To come home so late, it’s like, dinner and bedtime, “ explained Dahms when speaking with The Prowl. “There’s no decompression time for kids who live on that later schedule, in my opinion.”

Parent of SW elementary school students, Rebecca Stewart, has kids who operate on a late schedule and says that they get home at about 4:20 pm every day, despite not even being the last stop on their bus schedule.

Stewart notes that this creates minimal after-school family time and downtime, as well as little outside-play time, especially during the winter months.

“I think it is very do-able to slightly re-work the district’s school start/end times,” explained Stewart in an email with The Prowl. 

Stewart’s suggestions (early school schedule 8:25 am/3:00 pm and late schools 8:55am/3:30pm) would allow for all schools to begin by 9am and end by 3:30pm, allow for a 30 minute time difference between early/late schools, keep the elementary schools on a 2 & 2 schedule and not create the $1 million cost mentioned by Chemerka.


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About the Contributor
Ethan Sands
Ethan Sands, Staff Writer
Ethan Sands is a new junior at South Windsor High School. He loves writing of any kind and is excited to start at  The Bobcat Prowl this year. In his free time, he likes to play basketball in his driveway and he also climbs at Stone Age Rock Gym in Manchester CT. He doesn’t know what career he wants to pursue, yet, but is planning to go to some sort of college after high school. Between high school and college, he wants to go on a road trip across the country with his friends.