Dothan City Schools Director of Transportation Jay Bruner laid out a plan for a revised bell schedule during Thursday's school board work session.
The biggest change, perhaps, may come to junior high students enrolling in Dothan Preparatory Academy where the school is recommended to start 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:50 p.m.
The bell times are meant to coincide with a new staggering bus route schedule, which Bruner believes will more efficiently serve the needs of students and the school system.
“Currently we have students at some schools being unloaded on campuses an hour before school starts and waiting up to an hour for a bus when the school day ends,” Bruner said.
Some students are also being dropped off at other campuses for a holding period due to a shuttle system.
On February 12, Dannie Reed, a transportation consultant for DCS, spoke with the principals discussing school start times, length of days, academic research and sleep studies. His input led to the decisions for a bus route system, akin to many bus systems of larger school districts in Alabama like Hoover and Tuscaloosa.
“Our goals are to reduce ride time on buses, increase ridership, and have buses transport students with their age groups,” he said. “Now, I might have a 17-year-old sitting next to an 8-year-old (on a bus), and that creates some mishaps sometimes.”
Bruner said he believes separating age groups will encourage more parents to allow their children on buses.
Under Bruner’s proposal, students will have roughly 10 minutes to board buses at the end of the day, cutting down on the wait time prior to getting on the buses and the duration of the ride getting home.
Exact bus routes are undetermined for the time being, but Superintendent Phyllis Edwards is confident that the bus times will be shorter.
Bus schedules for the elementary schools and lone high school are as follows:
>> Grades K-6: 7:40 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
>> Grades 10-12: 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
The recommended bell schedule will be voted on by the board at Monday’s Dothan City School Board Meeting at Beverlye Magnet School at 5 p.m.