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Collinsville schools look at boundary and start time changes

Collinsville schools look at boundary and start time changes

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Because of underfunding from the state for transportation costs, the Collinsville School District is looking at changing geographical boundaries and start times for some elementary schools.

The proposals are based on the education logistics company Edulog's transportation study. The report was presented to the Collinsville school board at an April 15 public meeting. Kelly Carpenter, the district's director of student services, said the school board made no final decision.

Part of the original proposal, which was presented to the public in December, called for the closure of Twin Echo School so that it could be turned into a pre-kindergarten/early childhood education center. After parents and community members objected to that plan, it was tabled.

The current report produces a “bell time” study that offers two proposals to change school start times. Currently all elementary schools have a 8 a.m. start time.

The two options are:

  • Delay the start time at Renfro Elementary School by 15 minutes; this would result in a cost-savings of $100,000 with the elimination of two buses.
  • Delay the start times for Renfro and Krietner elementary schools by 15 minutes and adjust the start times for Caseyville, Webster, Summit and Maryville elementary schools from 8 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.; this would result in a cost-savings of $350,000 with the elimination of seven school buses.

Carpenter said school officials are aware that the changes would present problems for some district families.

“I'm sure there are concerns having one elementary school having a 15-minute time difference from all the others,” Carpenter said.

She also added that the some school board members were concerned with an earlier school day start time.

“Out of the conversation with the board was a concern because we have tardy issues,” Carpenter said. “We already have a number of kids that are tardy getting to their schools by 8 a.m.”

Carpnter added the board suggested looking at possibly changing the start time for the high school and not the elementary schools.

“One of the questions brought by the board is to look at the option if we were to adjust the high school schedule,” she said. “Instead of starting at 7:55, we could start the high school at 7:30.”

The report also recommends expanding the boundaries of Renfro and Webster elementary schools and adjusting the boundaries of Twin Echo elementary school to balance the class sizes and eliminate overcrowding in those schools.

“It balances class size and helps eliminate transfer buses because of overcrowding,” Carpenter said.

Some district students are not able to attend their home schools because of the overcrowding. Transfer buses pick up students at their home school to take them to the school where they attend classes. Carpenter said transfer buses are currently used at every elementary school in the district.

Carpenter said the final report from Edulog is still in need of some tweaking. In the Edulog proposal, kindergarten through fourth-grade students from Fairmont City would attend Kreitner, however Carpenter said she is looking at having those students attend Caseyville. Currently, kindergarten to third-grade students from Fairmont City attend Caseyville and fourth-grade students attend Kreitner.

“In the original proposal ... the newly annexed Fairmont City students went to Kreitner,” Carpenter said. “When I put Twin Echo into the mix of it and addressed some of the minor concerns, it was no longer possible for me to balance class size that way.

Carpenter said she is looking to form a committee of about eight people from the school district and the community to finalize the boundary and start time proposals. The recommendations from that committee will be presented to the school board for a vote and the changes would not be implemented until the 2014-2015 school year.

“I'd like to form a committee of stakeholders, a small committee to share what all the options have been at this point and where we are currently,” she said. “So we can look collectively as a group and make recommendations to the board so we can find the best way financially with the least impact to the students.”

Contact reporter Ramona C. Sanders at 618-344-0264, ext. 136

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