LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools officials will meet with teachers and staff members at four of the district's alternative schools on Tuesday to discuss a potential shift to a later bell schedule.
The proposal -- which must get school board approval -- would move students at Breckinridge Metro High School, Minor Daniels Academy, South Park TAPP and Westport TAPP to the district's third bell time, which is 9:20 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.
Sources tell WDRB news that the change in schedule could happen as early as later this month or after the winter break.
The four schools currently operate on a 7:40 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. bell schedule, which is the same for the district's middle and high school students.
During Tuesday's 3;15 p.m. meeting at Minor Daniels Academy, district officials will explain the district's current transportation situation -- which was described at last week's school board meeting as critical due to a bus driver shortage and the large percentage of drivers calling in sick daily.
Since the 2016-17 year began, the district has had to cancel more than 100 routes – mostly to and from the district’s alternative schools.
"We need your help to think through the impact and implications of such a move, as well accommodations that may be necessary for staff," reads an email that was sent to employees at staff at the four schools from Mike Raisor, the district's chief operations officer.
The bell schedule change would allow for about 17 fewer buses at the 7:40 a.m. time and allow for those routes to be run later in the morning.
In addition, if more of the district's alternative schools are added to this new bell schedule, officials say JCPS could cut some of its bus routesm, which would potentially save millions of dollars.
As WDRB previously reported, JCPS had explored the idea of moving its alternative schools to a later bell schedule over the summer, but the item was never brought to the school board for approval.
Officials with both the Teamsters Local 783, the union representing bus drivers, and the Jefferson County Teachers Association say that they have been approached about the idea of moving the bell schedule and that representatives from their unions will be present at Tuesday's meeting.
JCPS has a total of 893 bus routes – down from 964 routes last year.
The school board voted last week to give its bus drivers and special needs transportation assistants who have perfect attendance a weekly $100 bonus, starting Oct. 24. In addition, officials said during this shortage of bus drivers, teachers will be paid their hourly rate if needed to drive a bus route or ride as a bus monitor.
Last month, the board approved a plan to pay for a new driver’s CDL training – reimbursing them the $75 cost – as well as give them a $150 bonus after they work 90 days.
Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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