Greenville County Schools are considering earlier start and end times for elementary school students to address a districtwide problem of secondary bus riders being late to class.
“Secondary bus riders (high school students) are regularly missing instructional time due to late-morning arrivals,” said district spokeswoman Beth Brotherton. “Across the district, approximately 25% of high school buses are late every day.”
The proposed change would mean elementary schools would run from 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Brotherton said. This would allow for bus drivers to shift elementary drop off to 7 a.m. and add 15 minutes to their secondary routes.
Before sending out the proposal districtwide, the school district operated a pilot program that started with Taylors Elementary routes serving Eastside High and expanded to Grove Elementary and Lake Forest Elementary in its second year. The schools were chosen based on which routes could help reduce the most tardiness.
“We looked at the high schools with the most late buses and then examined the feeder patterns to see which elementary school routes would have the greatest impact on those tardies,” Brotherton said.
Based on the success of the pilot programs and even with the current bus driver shortage, the percentage of secondary students who arrive late to school on a regular basis is expected to drop from 25% to 4%. The district projects if they could fill the driver shortage, it could drop to 2%, Brotherton said.
The proposal, which is in its early stages, has been sent out to principals districtwide for their feedback, as well as input from parents and employees.
The school district should hear the principals’ feedback at a meeting in March and then the proposal would be presented to the Greenville County Schools board.