The Durham District School Board (DDSB) has heard the voice of parents that more bussing was required to create equity, including the needs of Priority Neighbourhoods. Adjusting bell times was identified to generate savings to create equity and to transport more students with the same level of funding. At the March Board meeting, trustees approved bell time changes at 28 DDSB schools effective this September.
The Board will offer new breakfast programs at three of its elementary schools where bell times are changing this September between 30 and 45 minutes. The new breakfast programs will ensure that parents who were used to dropping off their children at school each morning will not have to change that drop off time because of the bell time changes.
"We listened to the parents at those three schools and heard their message very clearly. They want to drop off their child at the same time this September as they do now, despite the change in bell times," outlined Board Chairperson Michael Barrett.
"We're improving the levels of bus transportation service for our students," noted Lisa Millar, Director of Education. "These changes to bell times will result in a minimum of 1,500 more students accessing bus transportation this September."
There are many advantages to changing the bell times, including:
- Almost 1,300 secondary students, 245 of which are in Priority Neighbourhoods will receive transportation
- Approximately 280 Kindergarten students at Single Track French Immersion schools will now be eligible for transportation
- The $1.2 million in savings is directed towards bussing the additional students and creates flexibility to meet the growth needs of the Region
- All the transportation savings will remain in the transportation budget to transport students
- An increase in bussed students should reduce the number of students requiring their parents to drive them to school. This will improve student safety and reduce traffic congestion
Of the 131 schools at the DDSB, only 28 schools will experience bell time changes this September. Seventeen schools will see a change of 10 minutes or less; seven schools will see a change of 10 to 25 minutes; and only four schools will see a change of 30 to 45 minutes.
Information regarding bus routes for transported students will be available in mid-August through the Durham Student Transportation Services automated phone line.