New school schedule hits Maiden district

Parents, students and faculty in the Maiden Feeder District will have a new school schedule starting in August.

Catawba County Schools Board of Education approved a revised start and end time schedule. The new schedule will affect Maiden, Tuttle and Startown elementary schools, Maiden Middle School and Maiden High School.

Startown Elementary Principal Barbara Bell presented a proposal to board members Monday on behalf of the feeder district to change the start and end times for each school. The time change affects vary at each school from 5 minutes lost to a 20-minute difference.

The new time change schedule will take 11 buses off the road, which will solve the problem with the state eliminating replacement buses, Bell said.

Steve Demiter, CCS assistant superintendent of operations, said the estimated savings from taking the 11 buses off the road can equal thousands of dollars. However, Demiter said he doesn't know how the elimination of the buses will affect drivers.

Demiter said the current bus drivers may be employees in the school system, such as teacher assistants, or outside employees.

"This can be attractive to an outside person," Demiter said, adding with the schedule change, bus drivers may only be needed for 4 hours a day, which puts that employee below the benefits level. "We are all being held hostage by the General Assembly. Until they pass the budget, we aren't sure what we can do."

Chairwoman Joyce Spencer asked what will happen to the 11 buses once they are removed from the route.

Demiter said the Department of Public Instruction will give CCS a credit for the buses, which will be turned in and possibly given to other school systems in need.

Fulbright questioned the proposal to remove the 11 buses because he said this will increase the wear and tear on the buses in use.
Demiter said the state pays for replacement school buses once they reach a certain mileage.

Also, changing the school time schedules will eliminate child care issues for parents with elementary-age children during morning hours, as well as older children who might assist in caring for the younger student.

Board members approved the schedule change 6-1, with board member Glenn Fulbright opposing because of a concern for elementary students during after-school hours.

Fulbright, of Maiden, said the child-care problem moves to the afternoon hours with a schedule change.

"The elementary schools will be released 50 minutes earlier than high schools," Fulbright said. "Who's going to care for the children for those 50 minutes? That's a big concern."

Bell said the elementary schools in the Maiden Feeder District have after-school activities for students. She explained that the new schedule will allow more time for students to participate in events after school, which can eliminate parental concerns.

Board member Sherry Butler said faculty and parents need to be informed of the schedule change as soon as possible.

"How you present this to your faculty and staff and parents is important," Butler said.

Other benefits include a reduction in overtime pay and will put Maiden Feeder District in alignment with other start and end times in the school system.

Currently, St. Stephens and Bunker Hill feeder districts follow the new schedule. Demiter said no complaints from parents have been made.
"We have to assume it's working," Demiter said.

New time schedule
Maiden High School will lose 5 minutes in its daily schedule with a tardy bell ringing at 8:05 a.m. and dismissal is at 3 p.m.

Maiden Middle School will not be lose any time in the school day, but the tardy bell will ring at 8:05 a.m. and dismissal will be at 2:55 p.m. for bus riders.

Startown Elementary School will lose 5 minutes with the schedule change. Its tardy bell will ring at 8:05 a.m. and dismissal is at 2:10 p.m. for bus riders.

Tuttle Elementary School will lose 10 minutes in its daily schedule. The tardy bell will ring at 7:35 a.m. and bus riders will be dismissed at 2:10 p.m.

Maiden Elementary School will lose 20 minutes in its school day with a tardy bell ringing at 7:35 a.m. and the bus rider bell sounding at 2:05 p.m.
Lori Reed, MES principal, said the 20-minute loss will not affect classroom time for students. Reed said the school previously started at 7:35 a.m. several years ago, but requested the change to serve as remediation time.