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MPS goes back to drawing board on changing school start times

Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 00:13:24-05

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee school board committee voted to table a discussion about overhauling school start times following a public comment session full of strong opinions.

Milwaukee Public Schools currently operates on two tiers of schedules. The proposal would change that to three tiers and have high schools start at either 7:10 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. on weekdays. MPS officials say this could save the district up to $6 million by reducing drivers and having them work more hours.

"That equates to more total routes using less total buses and less total drivers," said MPS director of transportation services David Solik-Fifarek.

Officials believe more hours will help stabilize the bus driver workforce in a time when many districts across the country face a bus driver shortage.

Some administrators at the meeting said they support the plan because it could cut down on bus times.

"I am in favor of shorter commutes for our students, many of whom are on the bus for over an hour," said Frederick J. Gaenslen principal Kirsten Brown.

Others believe the plan is too disruptive for families and students.

"This is just crazy. I'm so glad we care about bus drivers, but why aren't you caring about parents, MPS staff and kids?" said teacher Elizabeth Kosmach. "7:10, are we actually awake at 7:10?"

Some high school students who went to the meeting said they want administrators to improve the current system. They want time for work or extracurriculars after school without having to start so early.

"A lot of us are working our jobs too," said student Skit Austin. "We have responsibilities."

MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley said he and his team are listening, and they are continuing to work towards solutions.

"When we look at our budget, and the budget picture, we have to make some change somewhere," Dr. Posley said.

The committee will have to discuss the proposal again by April.

To find out the proposed start time for your child’s school click here.

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