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Elementary schedule impacts late buses

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As the clock hits 4:30 p.m., a bustling crowd of students packs up and pours out of the school to board their late buses, which wait in a neat line, releasing a trail of smoke from their engines. These buses now leave the school an hour later than they did last year, because of county modifications to elementary school bell schedules.

 This change began with FCPS closing Clifton Elementary, after its drinking water was deemed contaminated and renovations were considered expensive. The decision left many kids without a school, forcing them to enroll in different schools throughout the county. Now, other elementary schools in FCPS have taken in extra students. Amanda Jenkins-Rhome, fifth grade teacher at Fairview Elementary, said the change increased class sizes and deprived students of a close-knit learning environment. “I don’t get the opportunity to help as much as before; five more students do make a difference,” Rhome said.

The decision also changed the start and finish times for elementary schools, due to the later arrivals of students. This resulted in a conflicting bus schedule, because all grades and schools use FCPS buses. When the elementary school times changed, the high school times did as well. “The county has been re-using buses to save more money, and every office, including transportation, has been looking for efficiencies so we can keep the money flowing into the classrooms,” Director of Transportation Linda Farbry said.

The school’s late bus came at 3:45 p.m. last year, but the new time for elementary school became dismissal is 3:45 p.m. The one hour change left issues regarding the buses, which would now be sent to elementary schools first. Farbry said this is because the regular elementary school home runs take priority over the secondary level late run buses.

To fix the issue with the high schools, FCPS decided a change in the after school hours would solve the problem. The change in times was not only made at our school, but at schools across the county, such as Oakton.

Sophomore Hannah Lloyd said she finds the change gets in the way of out of school activities.

“I have to do my homework after practice when all I want to do is sleep,” Lloyd said. She said she has already found the change is giving her less time to get work done, and she believes the same applies to many students. Other students did not know why there was a change in the first place, and believe if the school had a choice, it should have changed the Monday schedule, since it is a short day for elementary schools.

“Kids at Robinson live in Clifton and they just get on the bus earlier. I don’t see why the younger kids get special treatment,” sophomore Ben Taitano said.

At this time, additonal changes to the late bus schedule are not being planned. However Farby said, “With changes in programs, school openings, traffic and population, late bus arrival times can vary on a monthly, or yearly basis; almost anything is possible.”

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Elementary schedule impacts late buses