Brunswick County school board changes bell schedule again

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Submitted: Thu, 05/15/2014 - 2:55am
Updated: Thu, 05/15/2014 - 3:21am

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — School start times are changing once again in Brunswick County. Last year, the school board voted on a staggered start time. But now they’ve eliminated that for something a little more traditional. The decision comes with a hefty cost.

Brunswick County teachers, parents, and school leaders were in utter shock tonight after the school board voted 3-2 to go back to a traditional bell schedule for the next school year.
The traditional bell schedule means all students high school, middle, and elementary will start and end school at the about same time.

Leonard Jenkins worked with the school system for 20 years. He says with the staggered schedule, students had to wait for buses to arrive, and he says some students were spending an hour and a half on bus just to get to and from school.

“On traditional, every school had its buses, so when school was out, kids left, they weren’t waiting on buses to come and transport them,” Jenkins said.

But Brunswick County schools spokeswoman Jessica Swencki says the change will cost the school system more than one million dollars to buy new buses, repair old ones, and get several out of retirement.

Many in attendance could not believe what they were hearing, including Bolivia Elementary principal, Kathy Owens.

“I’m very surprised at the outcome, going back to the traditional schedule, in light of the fact that it’s going to cost from what I just heard, a million dollars, and that’s going to come from somewhere,” Owens said. “I’m afraid it might come from classrooms and teachers.”

The board has not yet finalized what the start and end times for the new schedule will be, or how they plan to pay the extra $1,000,000.

But one parent says she just wants the changes to stop.

“They keep going back and forth,” Holly Biasi said. “We had a staggered schedule, then no staggered schedule, and then we’re back to staggered schedule.”

On top of the $1,000,000 Swincki says this decision will cost the school system, they also have to come up with more money annually to pay for transportation program costs.


  • Guest28451 says:

    Had Edward Pruden not proposed another change, there would not have been such an uproar. Students, parents, teachers and faculty had adapted to the change, despite the fact that it was the 3rd one in 3 years. Having tried each schedule, everyone assumed this would be the last and final change. When Edward Pruden opened his mouth with his proposal, the uproar started. I don’t believe everyone was as adamant about going back to traditional schedule as they were keeping the schedule as-is. Seems like the finger needs to be pointed at Pruden for this one.

  • Brent Harmon says:

    SHOCKED? Really? The return to traditional school schedule is the right thing to do. I got an idea of how to at least partially pay for this. Let’s reduce the pay for all of the school administration that came up with the idea of staggered start times to begin with. My elementary school daughter gets on the bus at 7:30 am and does not return home until 5pm. It is amazing to me that staggered start times were considered in the first place. Just fix the buses that should have been fixed years ago. Last year we had traditional start times so the idea that we need to buy new buses is ridiculous.

  • Guest2020 says:

    I agree completely. There was one day this past winter that I was behind a bus at 6:30 pm letting off an elementary school student. It was dark at the time. I just love the way that people pull these numbers out of the air about how much it is going to cost. It’s also amazing how people just grab onto those numbers and go with it.

    Three years ago, we had the staggered schedule. The next year we didn’t have the staggered schedule. I never heard of it costing a million dollars to go back to the traditional schedule then.

    In my opinion, what it boils down to is what is best for the students. They tried the staggered schedule with the older kids and it didn’t work well. They tried it with the younger kids and it didn’t work well with them either. The traditional schedule seems to be what fits best with all the students.

  • bob says:

    Those buses were return to the state. now they will have to spend 2.5
    million to replace them

  • Candace says:

    I can understand your worry for your child and the time she gets home but there are several reasons why this was implemented. The underlying part is that this will hurt many people when it comes to their employment. Of course the children are important but so are the families. The stagger start system gave my mom (a bus driver with brunswick county schools for nearly 25 years) a full time job which in turn gave her benefits. Due to going back to the traditional system she will no longer have a full time but a part time job with no benefits. Secondly the stagger start system saved the school over a million dollars. That is money that could have went to teachers and supplies. North Carolina schools is 48th out of our 50 states. We get paid SUBSTANTIALLY LESS than other states. We are even losing teachers due to that fact. Nearly everyone in the system are hurting. Teachers dont get paid what they deserve.

    For a third matter she wasnt even informed of this change until the vote showed ON THE NEWS. The school district itself never informed her of the change.

  • Guest1971 says:

    And next year you will be complaining when elementary school starts at 8am instead of 9am that your daughter now has to be at the bus stop at 6:30am.

  • Guest1971 says:

    There are a few unfortunate truths that we have to deal with in Brunswick County:

    1. Our county is very spread out. Based on that bus routes have to cover a lot of ground to pick up a full bus load. If they did not do this we would have to put more buses on the road and run them 40-50% full to cut the bus ride time. The best comprimise on this is probably to drop off the students who are picked up first in the mornings first in the afternoon & vice versa. That way the student only has one portion of their ride that is extremely long.

    2. The same statement above applies to why we have to put middle & high school students together on the same bus. If we used seperate buses the routes would be much longer for each school level.

    3. Our schools are spread out. Once again due to the size of the county there can be 10-15 miles between schools in the same attendance zone leaving the parent who chooses to drive their children to school in a quandry when they have to make drop offs at two seperate schools.

    4. Our county is full of parents who are not going to be happy no matter what the school board chooses to do.

    5. The school board can’t stick to a decision due to the loud and incessant whining of the parents. If they would give a schedule a chance to be worked out over a couple of years instead of drastic changes every year a workable solution can be found.

    I am the parent of Junior in Brunswick County so I have been subjected to all of the schedule changes. Each year we just adjust to it.

  • skewlteacher says:

    Students getting off buses at 6:30 are , ikely part of the CIS program wh7ch is afterschool daycare. Those are not students going home right after school.

  • Guest000000 says:

    Those numbers weren’t pulled out of the air. Those numbers were based on other school districts who’ve used the staggered schedule to save money. Facts and research were what those numbers were based on. Those savings were never realized in Brunswick County because our flip flopping board caved in TWICE to the incessant whining of a few disgruntled parents who refused to do their part and sacrifice like the rest of us to make this work. One year, one way. The next year, another way. Staggered schedules were never given an uninterrupted chance. With a tweak here or there staggered schedules in Brunswick County can work. Vote out those three idiots who are obsessed with “the way we’ve always done it” and “how much better our schools used to be” and get some people who actually know how to run a school system.

  • Guest 16789 says:

    Everything you have stated in your response is true. Brunswick County is wide spread. Some buses run longer than others. The single routes run shorter than the double routes. The double routes run almost 3 hours, but the students are not on those buses longer than 45 – to 50 minutes. If you are counting load time then yes they will end up being on the bus longer. Some schools which I will let remain nameless will hold the kids on the buses till a pull out time. An example would be the buses leave the lot at 4:10pm. School got out at 3:52. Those kids sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes. This is elementary kids. The high school/middle school buses are on the road by no later than 3:10. High School gets out at 2:52. The buses are at the middle school by 3. Middle school is standing outside waiting for the buses just at soon as the buses are stopped they are loaded and on the road to get the kids home. Then just as quick as the last kid is dropped off, the bus is on the way to the elementary school to load. Since the buses have to be at the elementary school by 3:50 the routes with the students is only 30 minutes long. There is dead head from the high school to the first stop to pick up or let off the child. There is also dead head from the last stop to the next school. Therefore when school is changed back to standard. The bus routes will go back to being longer then they are now. They are letting go 67 school bus drivers, some are dedicated or were dedicated with 15 to 40 years experience, it is not worth anyone’s time to get up in the morning at 5 and get ready to go drive a school bus for only 1 hours pay if you are lucky. A bus driver just starting only makes $11.79 an hour. A driver that has been there 25 years or more only makes $15.50 an hour. It is not worth it. These drivers that are losing there jobs as far as they know will lose all of there health and retirement benefits. Some of these people deserve what they have worked for. They are being faced with financial burden but apparently the school system don’t care about their employees or students. The only thing they are offering at this time if you don’t become a part timer is unemployment with insurance. They are not offering their veteran drivers with 10 to 40 years experience a job to equal at least 8 hours a day to save their benefits. They will need at least 8 hours a day to make up their income but they will still lose $200 to $300 dollars a month. That maybe there grocery money.

  • Timekeeper says:

    Anything that makes sense to most makes no sense to the school board. A staggered schedule cut down on traffic, which made it much safer for everyone and saved money. Guess that just does not fly with them.

  • anne says:

    I am glad that I do not have a child in the school system. The Brunswick County school board is a joke – you need to vote them out and put in some fresh people with fresh ideas.

  • Guest000000 says:

    I hope the three idiots that just voted to spend an extra million dollars a year are smart enough to figure out a way to get it without losing teacher or classroom positions, but I highly doubt it. The incompetence of this group knows no bounds. From votes to ban books to the constant tinkering with the schedule, I wonder how any of them got elected. As a parent with school age children, I’ve sacrificed with this schedule along with everyone else knowing that it benefited EVERY student by allowing Brunswick County to keep teaching positions that were on the chopping block. Everyone talks about how they want to save taxpayer dollars until it adversely affects or inconveniences them. Their motto seems to be “Government! Stop spending my tax dollars! (Just don’t stop spending them on me)”.

  • observer says:

    ONE MILLION DOLLARS. That is a lot of money when you consider teachers are already running short on supplies in the classrooms, or will the money be made up by firing teachers, or how about cutting sports, maybe clubs, after school programs, or proms, etc… Heck lets just raise taxes in an economy that is already struggling. WOW, the bus rides in some cases are long but the burden this will cause in an already tight school budget is just amazing. Plus I would guess that a million dollars will end up being a low estimate when all is said and done.

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