New school hours, bus routes

What will the new school hours be?

With the opening of Silver Spring Intermediate School next fall, new bus patterns will be established. Students in grades 7-12 will be on the early bus run and grades 4K-6 will be on the later one. Except at Hamilton, school start and dismissal times will be adjusted as well. School hours will 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?

  • 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.
  • 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.

For Willow Springs students, this plan minimizes bus travel, ensures timely arrivals and adds instructional time, which has been problematic in the past.

Elementary students may have shorter travel times in the afternoon, but longer in the morning. If additional travel time occurs for elementary students, it is not expected to be more than 20 minutes on average. A number of actions were taken to mitigate an increase in student travel time:

Additional buses have been added to the grades 4K-6 run.

Using routing software, bus routes will be 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.

Can’t there be 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 $800,000 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 25-30 more drivers.

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?

Currently, Hamilton High School has an early start time of 7:20 a.m. and Templeton’s is 7:25 a.m. Any earlier and students would be getting on morning buses before 6:20 a.m.

Will all elementary students have longer bus rides?

Not necessarily. It depends on individual circumstances. Because bus routes will be reconfigured from scratch and extra buses will be added, efficiencies will be gained over the entire bus run. Afternoon routes will probably be shorter. Morning routes could be longer, but on average, it is not expected to be more than 20 additional minutes.

Will there be enough time to drop off and pick up my 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.