Confusion and concern has been expressed by some parents about a new two-tiered bus schedule for Pine Bluff School District which called for elementary students being picked up early followed by a later bus for older students.
“Because of the concerns we have received, we are looking at doing something different,” Deputy Superintendent Rudolph Howard said Friday. “We will have something at the Tuesday board meeting.”
Officials say they will ensure that the district’s plan accommodates the schedules of parents as much as possible and ensures that student instructional time is not compromised.
Howard said he is in the process of confirming bus schedules and school start and dismissal times for the district’s five elementary schools.
The Pine Bluff School Board approved a recommendation from Superintendent Linda Watson at its regular meeting in April to implement the new schedule.
“Right now, the district operates one bus run with all grades on the same buses,” Watson said at the April board meeting. “We have a shortage of bus drivers and the district has a difficult time finding enough drivers to run the 26 routes. With a two tier bus system, we would have an early run for elementary school students and a later run for secondary students. This would keep younger students from having to ride with older students and would allow the same bus drivers to run both routes.”
Watson said in April that under the new system, elementary school students would start their day at 8 a.m. which is the same as it is currently; and secondary students would begin school at 8:45 a.m.
The district published a general schedule for bus pickup times and school dismissal times in The Commercial over the past two weeks.
“Elementary and middle school students will be picked up in the mornings [between] 6:50 a.m. [and] 7:35 a.m.,” the notice in the paper said. “Approximately early enough to arrive at the start of school which is 7:35 a.m. Students will be dismissed at 2:50 p.m.”
“Junior and senior high school students will be picked up in the mornings [between] 7:35 a.m. [and] 8:20 a.m.,” the notice said. “Approximately early enough to arrive at the start of school which is 8:20 a.m. Students will be dismissed at 3:35 p.m.”
Howard said that after arriving at school, the students are served breakfast before the official start of the school day.