Several LS R-7 schools to change start/end times for 2017-18 to increase efficiency and save money

// Posted By Janie Rohlfing

District focus is to provide high level of service while being fiscally responsible to taxpayers

Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, several Lee’s Summit R-7 schools will change their start/end times in order to increase bus routing efficiency while saving significant dollars for our schools.

Half of the district’s 26 elementary, middle and high schools will see no change in their start/end time. Start/end times for eight schools will change by just five minutes. Pleasant Lea Middle School will start and end 20 minutes earlier next year, and Summit Ridge Academy will begin and end 30 minutes earlier. Three elementary schools — Cedar Creek, Lee’s Summit and Trailridge — will begin and end 40 minutes earlier in 2017-18.

The changes are designed to allow the Lee’s Summit R-7 Transportation Department to continue to offer a high level of service to families while reducing the number of school bus routes required to transport students to and from school. The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will save approximately $120,000 in anticipated additional transportation staffing in 2017-18 while avoiding the purchase of several new school buses, estimated at $520,000.

These transportation savings are especially important since the state continues to reduce funding for public school transportation. State reimbursement for public school transportation continues to be significantly underfunded with Lee’s Summit R-7 funding 71 cents of every dollar spent on student transportation while the state contributes 29 cents toward every dollar spent. Full state transportation reimbursement would result in state funding of 75 cents of every dollar spent with Lee’s Summit R-7 responsible for 25 cents of each transportation dollar.  For the R-7 School District, the state underfunding of transportation results in a loss of $3 million this school year.

The changes also provide for a more consistent schedule among schools. Instead of three start/end times for elementary schools, there will be two next year. The three middle schools will start and end within 10 minutes of one another next year instead of the 20-minute span in start/end times this year. For the three high schools, the change will result in all three schools starting and ending at the same time.

The district’s Before- and After-School Services (BASS) program is adjusting its schedule to fit changes at schools. The decision to make the changes to the start/end times involved district administration, principals, transportation staff and BASS employees. Staff members worked together to develop the plan, emphasizing excellent service for students as well as the necessity of being fiscally responsible.

The current and 2017-18 start/end times for all schools are listed in the following chart.

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