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May 11, 2004

Staggered Bell Times Recommended By Both School Boards For September 2004
The Board of Trustees at the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) and the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) have recommended the implementation of staggered bell times for the school year 2004-2005 beginning this September.

The decision was a difficult one for Trustees as they weighed the advantages and disadvantages of implementing staggered bell times at elementary and secondary schools. Fifty-five of the 72 Boards in the province have already adopted a staggered bell time approach and are achieving much needed economic efficiencies.

According to Wilf Garrah, Chair of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board the fact that other Boards have implemented staggered bell times was one of the deciding factors but not the only one.
Mr. Garrah said that in 1996 the eastern jurisdiction of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, in conjunction with the Limestone District School Board, implemented a staggered bell time for schools with secondary schools starting prior to elementary schools to allow for double routing of buses. This decision has proved to:

“Now that the decision has been made, as a Board we can move on to the next step of putting the money towards programs and services for students,” remarked Judy Edgar, Chair of the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. “Our priorities are on continuously improving offerings to support student achievement,” she added.

Community input was obtained from a variety of sources. Seven public information sessions were held throughout the district. Principals and vice-principals were briefed on the proposed changes and they, in turn, held meetings with their individual school councils. All of the data gathered at those meetings was compiled and reviewed as part of a final report to Trustees.

ALCDSB Director of Education Dr. Gregory Cosgrove said the issues and concerns raised in our regional communities were similar to those issues raised by parent communities at other boards that have recently implemented the staggered bell times. He confirmed that many of those concerns were resolved over time as staggered bell times have proved to be beneficial to both students and to the ongoing financial outlook for the board.

“The report addressed the major concerns and issues raised by our various stakeholder groups. The goal was to deal with community concerns and provide alternative solutions where possible while not compromising the objectives of the initiative,” remarked Larry Langdon, HPEDSB Director of Education. The initiative, when fully implemented, will affect 62 public and Catholic schools and approximately 23,600 students (46 public schools / 18,000 students and 16 Catholic schools / 5,600 students).

Under the new plan, the majority of elementary schools will begin at 9:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m. Secondary schools will begin at 8:15 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. It should be noted that some elementary schools, in particular French Immersion centres, will have school start times that coincide with secondary start times. Research indicates that 55 other boards across Ontario have adopted staggered bell times with start and end times similar to our new times.

In the eastern portion of the Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, which serves the ALCDSB and Limestone District School Board, staggered bell times have been in effect for close to 10 years.
Bob Koubsky, Superintendent of Finance and Business Services for ALCDSB indicated that this proven practice has resulted in a safe and efficient transportation system for the students while also providing $2.4 million in savings for those Boards.

Chris Salt, Superintendent of Operations & Human Resources for HPEDSB calculates the anticipated savings will amount to $1.1 million in annual savings for HPEDSB. Savings to the ALCDSB will produce an additional $500,000, resulting in a combined annual savings of $1.6 million between the two Boards.

The Tri-Board Student Transportation Services transports 38,000 students to 164 schools, travelling over 97,000 kilometres daily, covering an area of 16,000 kilometres.

The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board covers 16,134 square kilometers from Seeley’s Bay in the east to Trenton in the west to Picton in the south and Whitney near Algonquin Park in the north. Our 14,705 students are educated in five secondary schools, 36 elementary schools and one Adult Learning Centre with six annexes. The system employs over 1,900 full, part-time and occasional teachers and support staff.

The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board has 46 elementary and eight secondary schools serving 18,700 students, employing 1,067 teachers and 775 support staff. The Board covers a wide geographical area of 7,221 square kilometres bordered by Maynooth to the north, Deseronto to the east, Prince Edward County to the south, and Quinte West to the west.

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