North Hills Schools superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino Monday released details of a proposal to alter the start and dismissal times of all the schools in the district in order to streamline the district's transportation costs.
"These small time changes would allow the district to reduce the number of buses required to serve our students, saving up to nearly $417,870 yearly while preserving our quality educational programs," said Mannarino. "Basically, district buses would be utilized to their maximum potential with less down time between runs."
Mannarino said with the current fiscal climate, and few signs of increased funding from Harrisburg, he has save money wherever he can.
"I've been here 11 years and we have some amazing things going on and now, sitting in this chair, I need to do everything I can to protect those programs as much as possible," he said. "We're in the era of tearing down the walls of public education. Unfortunately, that's the reality that we are living in."
Proposed Time Changes
Sr. High (grades 9-12)
Jr. High (grades 7-8)
Highcliff/West View Elementary
In addition to reducing the district's transportation costs, Mannarino said the proposed changes will increase safety at the junior and senior high schools.
"There would be no gridlock on the hilltop in the morning or afternoon because we've split the bus traffic in half," said Mannarino. "The middle school students (7th and 8th grade) will be arriving while the high school students are already in class. Add to that, the high school students who park in the lot adjacent to the junior high won't have to dodge the middle school students' buses while walking to the high school. That solves a major safety issue that we've known about for a long time."
Academically, the proposed schedule time would also allow administrators to create an activities period for 7th and 8th grade students.
"It also allows for a true team-teaching model proven to raise academic excelence during this transitional time for teenagers," Mannarino said.
Parents will get their say in the months leading up to a decision about this plan.
"We've established a task force of our PTA leadership that represents a cross section of North Hills school district parents," said Mannarino. "We're going to meet weekly through February so that if anything pops up we didn't think of, this group is going to try to iron through some of those problems." (See attached .pdf for the meeting schedule.)
In addition, the plan will be the subject of school board meetings in January and early February. Mannarino said a final decision would need to be made by Feb. 18 in order to give administrators time to implement it for the 2013-2014 school year.
What do you think of the proposed changes? Tell us in the comments box below.
See the attached .pdf for answers to frequently asked questions about the proposal.
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