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New school hours set

The McCreary County Board of Education met in special session Tuesday night to approve a plan that could help parents and students alike get to and from school a little easier.

In an effort to alleviate traffic issues at all five county schools Acting Superintendent Mike Cash met with District Transportation staff and school principals to develop a plan that would ease traffic flow, and also, hopefully, reduce the amount of time some students spend on a bus when traveling to or from school.

The plan presented to the Board would have busses unload at all schools at 7:45 a.m., with classes starting at PKIS and PKP at 8:14 a.m. and all other schools beginning at 8:15 a.m.

In the afternoon the high school and middle school will let out at 3:12 p.m. to allow the students to board the busses. Those busses will then travel to the three other schools, where the older students will be able to transfer to the appropriate bus for their final trip.

PKIS will let out at 3:15, and both PKP and WCE will end at 3:20. That staggering of time will allow the younger students to board the busses after the older students have already made their transfer, reducing confusion and possible complications.

In addition to the new bus scheduling, extra school staff will be available to monitor the busses and be on hand for assistance if needed.

Cash stated the plan will be an experiment, and he hopes to receive public input on what works and what doesn’t work in order to make changes if needed.

“We know there will be bumps,” he said. “It is a new plan, and we know there will have to be adjustments.”

Cash said he has also been in contact with the State Transportation Cabinet for their help with traffic issues during the morning and afternoon hours. One possible solution would be to have School Resource Officers block traffic at the main intersections.

Cabinet officials have said they will have personnel observe the traffic during the first weeks of school in order to help develop a plan.

One byproduct of the new scheduling will be each school should be able to “bank” 15 hours of extra time, which could be used at the end of the school year if bad weather forces cancellation of school for a significant time over the course of the school year.

The new plan could affect parent pick up rules, as Cash stated the District is looking to allow busses to leave with the first load before releasing other students to prevent congestion.

Working with the transportation staff, Cash is also hoping to streamline the bus routes and pick up times in order to shorten the rides for many students travelling from outlying areas.

He said some students are getting on a bus at 6:00 a.m., and riding for more than an hour before reaching school. He is hoping to cut some of the longer routes by up to half an hour to prevent the long rides.

The District is still facing a bus driver shortage, Cash said.

Eight new drivers are in training after taking part in the new incentive program, but they will not be certified until after school starts.

Cash said the District is looking at ways to cover the routes until the training is complete.

Other items on the agenda Tuesday included approval of creating a Curriculum Coordinator position at Whitley City Elementary at the request of the school’s SBDM, and approved hiring consultants upon approval from the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

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