New Woodstock District 200 school start times proposed to help ease bus driver shortage

Schedule will allow drivers to complete three routes per day for three different grade levels

Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 officials are again looking to reschedule class start and dismissal times to ease the bus driver shortage they fear will worsen as the fall turns to winter.

After originally proposing to have students in grades as low as pre-kindergarten in class just after 7 a.m. to free up drivers to take on more routes throughout the day, the district killed that plan after hearing overwhelming opposition from parents of its youngest learners.

Under the new plan discussed Tuesday, students in first through fifth grades are slated to to start at 7:20 a.m. and get out of class at 1:40 p.m., with the start time 10 minutes earlier than now and the dismissal time 20 minutes earlier than now.

“As with the last proposal, the buildings will accommodate and supervise students at the kindergarten and elementary school level whose parents need to pick them up at the same, current times because the new schedule conflicts with their family schedules,” District 200 spokesman Kevin Lyons said. “We know change can be difficult and our families have had to make many adjustments for the past two years, which we certainly appreciate. But we need to put our transportation department in a better position to be able transport kids in a timely manner.”

Kindergarteners at Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center would also start 20 minutes earlier than currently and get out 25 minutes earlier in the afternoon, with an 8:20 a.m. start and a 2:30 p.m. dismissal.

Pre-kindergartners who attend morning classes at Verda Dierzen are set to start at 8:20 a.m. and get out and at 10:45 a.m. under the new schedule, as opposed to the 8:30 a.m. start and 11 a.m. dismissal now. Afternoon pre-kindergartners will start at 12:05 p.m. and get out at 2:30 p.m., as opposed to the 12:25 p.m. to 2:55 p.m. school day now.

Pre-kindergartners in morning classes at Greenwood Elementary School would start at 7:20 a.m. and get dismissed at 9:45 p.m. under the new plan, up from the 7:30 to 10 a.m. schedule in place now. Afternoon pre-kindergarten classes at Greenwood will move up to an 11:15 a.m. start and 1:40 p.m. dismissal, from the 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. classes now.

District 200 middle schools will move start times back to 8:55 a.m. and dismiss students at 3:40 p.m., moved later from the 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. classes now.

High schools will move back to 8:45 a.m. starts and 3:30 p.m. dismissals, from the 8:20 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. days in place now.

The schedule for District 200′s Clay Academy schedule will remain 8:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

The rescheduling will allow the district’s bus drivers to complete three routes at three different grade levels every school day, Lyons said, adding it will “alleviate our significant bus driver shortage.”

The school board is slated to vote on the new schedule Oct. 26, and if it is approved, it would be implemented within weeks after the vote.