ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ---- The start and dismissal times for Rockford Public Schools will change starting next school year after the board voted on a new start schedule for its elementary, middle and high school students.
The start times and dismissals for most schools in Rockford School District 205 will change by approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Elementary school students will begin at 7:35 in the morning, with high schoolers starting at 8:15 and middle schoolers cracking open their books at 9:00am. These changes were made to battle the current bus driver shortage, reducing the number of school buses by 40, thereby saving the school district $600,000 per year in repairs and replacement buses.
Other school districts also know the sting of what a shortage can do.
"The better the economy is, the harder it is to get bus drivers, because they're finding other jobs that are full time, you know, full time straight, twelve months out of the year, when we're nine months a year," said Don West, director of transportation for Harlem School District.
"The reality is, if we can't get the kids to school...and we don't have enough drivers. I mean, it's great to say, 'please don't change this,' but give us a solution. What is the solution going to be if we don't have enough drivers?" said board member Jude Makulec.
This will shorten the length of time students ride the bus, dropping the average ride to 19 minutes compared to the current 21 minutes. Students can expect to see these changes take effect starting this fall for the 2019-2020 school year.