Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Staggered bells

The Pembroke Observer posted this story over the weekend, regarding Renfrew County politicians' 'crusade' over staggered bell times that have been announced and are being implemented for September 2008 in public and Catholic schools in that area.
A few thoughts:
I'm surprised this area doesn't already have staggered bells, as I would suspect a good majority of boards have double-run buses for years with high schools starting earlier and elementary schools starting later.
Second, I hate to be so brash, but so what? Staggered bells is only the beginning in an era of mandated school bus consortiums across the province, particularly in a year when the Ministry of Education is telling boards they need to reduce their transportation costs by one per cent next school year or the ministry will just cut the budget by an equivalent amount.
One of (Township of Greater Madawaska Reeve Peter Emon's) concerns regarding staggered bells is the expense to municipalities and to the county of having to have roads open sooner following snow storms because of earlier bus runs.
In addition, he feels families will face difficulties in finding child care, and employers will have problems accommodating staff that are requesting to finish work earlier to get home before the school bus.
Are these legitimate concerns? Really? Is the county only plowing roadways for 8 a.m. right now? What about those who need to be on the road earlier than this time? I realize many counties don't provide 24/7 routine winter maintenance (my local county provides 7 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. coverage, on-call outside those hours-- which means the roads are clear for 7 a.m.), but they tend to have their day shifts on in time for the morning commute, which is usually not judged by school bus times.
Also, to the childcare and other concerns-- many of those leaving school earlier as a result of this change will likely be high school students. Last time I checked it was extraordinarily difficult to find childcare for a 14-year-old child.
As to Emon's points on 'local' policy being dictated from Queen's Park, I don't think there would be much objection to that from either an educational or municipal perspective.


Anonymous said...

sounds like what they need is better coordination and perhaps a little common sense.

Perhaps there's something being lost in translation in this board too?

Anonymous said...

I wonder why so many families have to be displaced to save the Boards 1% maybe the Ministry was annoyed with the fact that the money is sent to the Boards in an open envelope and they are free to waste it as they desire. I'm sure the Administration did not take a 1% decrease in fact they probably voted themselves raises.
It would be interesting to see the out-come of this staggered bells project, I'm sure in a rural area such as Renfrew County the buses are probably running around half empty, wasting fuel and polluting the environment. It would be interesting if there was a follow up story on this and not just your "brash" opinion.