Madison Co. plans staggered school bus routes ahead of vote - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison Co. plans staggered school bus routes ahead of vote

Parents were surveyed on proposed bus schedule changes. Parents were surveyed on proposed bus schedule changes.

The Madison County School Board is moving ahead with plans to stagger school start times in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding on school buses. Wednesday, the state looked over plans to rearrange routes so students could be picked up in two stages.

The plan is not official, but the board could end up voting on it by next month.

Auxiliary Services Director Dan Evans said he already has about a dozen bus routes reimagined, such as one for Endeavor Elementary and Monrovia Middle School, as the system moves ahead toward creating a two-stage bus system.

A survey (PDF) of Madison County parents revealed most favor changing bus routes to alleviate overcrowding and long bus lines that can be over an hour and 15 minutes. The system cannot afford the $2.5 million it would cost for new buses, so Evans and his team are devising routes that would bring elementary school students in earlier – starting school by 7:30 or 7:45 a.m., and then send the same buses back out to pick up middle and high school students – starting their day at 8:15 or 8:30 a.m.

Evans said his team is working as fast as possible to accommodate each of the 219 unique bus routes, which are about to be turned into 438 shorter routes, so the board can consider the plan in time for the upcoming school year.

"It's a physical impossibility to do it in just a little bit of time," said Evans. "We would like to have all the routes completely drawn out and everything so we can share with the schools by the first of May, but we have got to make the decision long before then."

Madison County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Copeland said they need to make the decision in April. "Parents deserve to know as soon as possible, so that's our target date, our April board meeting," he said.

Evans said the plan could mean more mileage and wear-and-tear on the buses, but he said the state will help pay for most of that, whereas the state would not pay anything to help cover the cost of new buses.

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