A shortage of school bus drivers presents an opportunity for the Clover Park School District to excel.
At the school board meeting May 24, 2021, Assistant Superintendent Rick Ring recommended realigning the start and end of school days to address an estimated shortfall of 16 to 18 school bus drivers and another 10 to 15 substitute drivers needed to start the 2021-22 school year.
“Bus driver shortages continues to be a growing problem throughout the Puget Sound and across the nation,” Ring said.
The Philadelphia School District is an example where, because of the bus driver shortage, start times for most middle and high school students is proposed to move even earlier: to 7:30 a.m.
Students at Lakes and Clover Park High Schools already have 7:30 a.m. start times. But under Ring’s proposal, Harrison Prep students would also arrive at 7:30 a.m. – 80 minutes earlier than previously.
Is 7:30 a.m. an optimal time for learning?
According to a May 28, 2021 article written by Amy Janke for The Philadelphia Inquirer, it is not.
An Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Sciences, Janke pointed out that when adolescents sleep later, they sleep better, they feel better and they do better in their studies.
If students sleep later – one benefit of the pandemic – and they do better in their studies, why should transportation drive instruction?
The pandemic has provided another lesson for educational success: Why is the traditional classroom setting – early morning or any time – when students must be bussed to class the only way when online learning has allowed some students to thrive?
Virtual classes and academies are a promising approach to persistent challenges in public education, according to Seattle Times reporters Hannah Furfaro and Elise Takahama, in a May 31, 2021article.
Avenues such as these are worth exploring in how the Clover Park School District works to solve the bus driver shortage.
This presents an opportunity to ask questions and to see what else can work.
What if the only question that mattered that was ever before the school board in any decision made – or recommended – was ‘why?’
Like the wheels on the bus, so the wheels of the mind should turn to the similar task of getting where it is we want to go: the best possible means by which to shepherd our students toward academic and occupational success.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.