Some Hamilton schools may soon have much later start times

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Published December 20, 2019 at 7:35 pm

A joint study being carried out by Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards suggests start times that could give students a nice window to sleep in.

A joint study being carried out by Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards suggests start times that could give students a nice window to sleep in.

The Bell Time Study, a joint initiative of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB), was launched earlier this year in the hopes of mitigating a potential school bus driver shortage.

The final report won’t be ready until February 2020 but in a press release issued this week, the boards revealed some of the optional start times. They range as from as late as 9:30 a.m. to as early as 8:10 a.m. And dismissal times as early as 2:30 and as late as 3:50.

“A Bell Time Study is a critical next step in our pursuit to counter the school bus driver shortage in Hamilton,” said Alex Johnstone, Chair of HWDSB said in the release. “As we look to more efficient bus routes, the review will change the start and end times for many of our schools.”

The hope is that the study will lead to a reduction of approximately 40 buses on the road in September 2020 and eliminate the bus delays that families experience.

“With the pending expiration of bus operator contracts in 2021, it is incumbent upon both boards to realize significant efficiencies in order to mitigate against the possible 30 per cent increase in costs experienced by other school boards,” said Patrick Daly, Chairperson of the HWCDSB.

This is the first study of its scale in Hamilton and proven effective in neighbouring areas such as the school boards serviced by the Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region, the release says.

For three years, the driver shortage has resulted in daily late pick-ups and drop-offs for approximately 25 to 35 routes impacting their time learning in school.

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