By: Megan Gee
The transportation meeting was held on February 21 at 7 pm in the Homer High School theater to discuss the potential changing of school times across the southern peninsula. Fifty two people came to argue their points and try to solve the problem we currently have.
The assistant superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Dave Jones, traveled to Homer to explain why the school times need to change. He explained that we need to save $750,000 on transporting students to and from school. To do this the southern peninsula needs to go to a two-tiered busing system. We currently use a single-tiered system. If we switch to the two-tiered system, it will eliminate about half the buses we use, which would save close to $350,000.
Jones identified a problem with the two-tiered system; the times schools start. In order for this system to work, the elementary schools will either need to start earlier at 7:40, or later at 9:00. The middle school and high schools are facing the same dilemma.
At the meeting parents bantered back and forth about which school should start earlier or later. Dr. Gee said, “ We can’t start later. We are already having a hard enough time contracting with other schools to start games at 3:30. There is no way to start any later.”
An elementary school parent angrily commented, “So this decision is going to be made based on the high school, and the elementary school will not even be considered.” The parents of the elementary school students felt that their children should start earlier. Some parents worried that if they started later they will not be able to find child care for after school when they are working.
In the school poll to see what time students wanted to start school 61% of the Homer High School students want to have the earlier start time of 7:40. The other 39% want school start at 9:00. An earlier start time would release students earlier to start work or sports practices could begin earlier. A later start time would make practice start later, and students may not be able to work if they need to.
The next meeting to discuss the transportation issue is the board meeting on March 5th. Whatever is decided will be put into place by the start of school in August.