Land O' Lakes, Florida - Just weeks before school starts, some parents with kids at more than half a dozen schools in Pasco County may have to scramble to find child care. That's after the school board's unanimous decision Tuesday evening to change the start times in an effort to close the gap on a $26 million budget shortfall.
The projected savings comes by having more schools start at the same time, which means the school district is able to put more students on every school bus. It's a move that will allow the district to eliminate 30 school bus routes, which is expected to save $800,000 to $1 million.
Only one parent stood up to speak out against changing the school start times. Other parents called and sent letters and emails to school board members. But Judy Lambert wanted to be at the meeting to share her story. She and her husband have two kids who attend Deer Park Elementary School. One is a 2nd grader, the other a 5th grader.
Judy is an accountant and wondered how much the proposal would actually save by changing the start time at her children's school. She says, "I often see buses in the area with one or two children on it, the large school buses, and so as far as we're concerned busing it doesn't directly affect our families."
School superintendent Kurt Browning felt the same way, that there weren't enough students catching the bus to and from Deer Park to save much money by changing the school start time there. But the board did vote unanimously to make changes at eight other schools.
Fivay and Ridgewood high schools and James Irvin Educational Center will now start at 8:30 a.m. Harry Schwettman Educational Center starts at 8:40 a.m. Moore Mickens Educational Center will start at 8:45 a.m. Bayonet Point Middle School will start earlier at 7:30 a.m instead of 8:40 a.m. and New River Elementary and West Zephyrhills Elementary will start at a later time of 9:40 a.m.
Superintendant Browning says they looked at the savings, but also at safety. Lambert says, "I believe many people will sleep much better tonight."
The summer break ends soon and students will head back to school on Monday, August 19th.
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