The 2019-20 school year will bring noteworthy changes in the Hamilton School District with the opening of a new school, a new grade level configuration from 5k to grade 8 and new school hours for most schools. Here are answers to questions families may have.
What will school hours be?
- Hamilton High School, 7:20 a.m. – 2:25 p.m. (unchanged)
- Templeton Middle School, 7:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
- Silver Spring Intermediate School, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Willow Springs (am/pm sessions), 8:45 -11:30 a.m., 12:45 – 3:30 p.m.
- Elementary schools, 8:50 a.m. – 3:50 p.m.
How will this affect busing?
With the opening of Silver Spring Intermediate School, new bus patterns have been established. Students in grades 7-12 will be on the early bus run and grades 4K-6 will be on the later one.
The greatest bus route changes will occur for students from 4K to grade 6.
- Morning: Buses will drop off grades 4K, 5 and 6 at Silver Spring, and then elementary students at their home schools. A shuttle bus will take 4K students from Silver Spring to Willow Springs. Elementary students will have shorter travel times in the afternoon, but longer in the morning.
- Afternoon: Silver Spring students will get on buses first then students at the elementary schools will be picked up. A shuttle bus will take 4K students from Willow Springs to the elementary schools. Intermediate students will have shorter travel times in the morning, but longer in the afternoon.
For Willow Springs students, this plan minimizes bus travel, ensures timely arrivals and adds instructional time, which has been problematic in the past.
A number of actions were taken to mitigate an increase in student travel time:
- Additional buses were added to the grades 4K-6 run.
- Using routing software, bus routes were completely reconfigured to ensure the greatest efficiency for travel. While bus routes are continuously reviewed and updated, the entire system has not been reconfigured from scratch in decades.
What options are available for families whose parents have to leave for work in the morning?
- The district has asked the YMCA to set up Before and After School Programming at Silver Spring Intermediate School and each elementary school. If there is enough interest from families, the program will run. Y-Care spots are still available at each school. Interested families can contact the YMCA directly at https://www.ymcamke.org/child-enrichment-and-camp/beforeafter-school-care/.
- Schools will allow students to enter the building at least 15 minutes before the of start school providing families with greater flexibility for student drop off.
Is it possible to have three separate runs for grades 4k-4, 5-8 and 9-12?
The cost to add another bus run for grades 5-8 would exceed $700,000 per year. Realistically, every dollar spent on transportation is less money going into classrooms – likely to result in fewer teachers and paraprofessionals and class size increases.
Already, a statewide bus driver shortage exists. If additional funds were available to add another run, it would be highly unlikely that bus companies could produce 15 more drivers. Dairyland has been able to fill current needs but they have indicated that every route that we attempt to add would be increasingly difficult to staff.
Why not have Silver Spring on the same earlier schedule as Templeton and Hamilton?
Starting Silver Spring at the same time as Templeton and Hamilton would add more than 350 additional students (grade 5) and the corresponding vehicles they are traveling in to an already burdened traffic mix. Starting Silver Spring later means there will be at least 350 (grade 6) fewer students and corresponding vehicles and improve early-morning traffic conditions at Templeton and Hamilton.
The county would have required expansion of Silver Spring Drive to four lanes to accommodate the increased traffic – at district expense. Land acquisition and road work would have been cost prohibitive for the district. Because Silver Spring Intermediate School will have a different start time than Templeton and Hamilton and traffic will be alleviated, the county granted access to Silver Spring Drive without major road modifications.
If Silver Spring were on the earlier schedule, grades 5 and 6 would be on buses with middle and high school students. During referendum meetings, parents expressed strong support for fifth-graders riding with elementary rather than high school students.
This option would add further expense because more bus routes would be required.
Can’t Templeton and Hamilton start earlier?
Hamilton High School has an early start time of 7:20 a.m. and Templeton’s is 7:30 a.m. Any earlier and students would be getting on morning buses before 6:20 a.m.
Will there be enough time to drop off and pick up children who will be at Silver Spring and an elementary school?
Yes. There is a 20-minute difference in start times between Silver Spring and elementary schools.
What other factors affect school transportation in Hamilton?
Hamilton is unique in that the district offers bussing to all students. Most districts do not bus students who live within two miles of the school.