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Division considering earlier start times for 9 schools

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The Winnipeg School Division is considering starting classes at 8:15 a.m., rather than 9 a.m., at nine schools next September to save on busing costs.

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The Winnipeg School Division is considering starting classes at 8:15 a.m., rather than 9 a.m., at nine schools next September to save on busing costs. Photo Store

Kids at up to nine elementary schools in the Winnipeg School Division could start classes at 8:15 a.m. in September to save money on busing.

Trustees passed a $374-million budget last month that saw a 3.6 per cent increase in school property taxes, which included plans to trim busing costs by $500,000 over the next two years.

"We have to find out from parents how doable this is," finance chairwoman Cathy Collins said Thursday afternoon.

The nine schools being considered are J.B. Mitchell, Brock-Corydon, Lord Roberts, George V, Greenway, Clifton, Victoria Albert, Shaughnessy Park and Prairie Rose.

The normal start time for schools is 9 a.m. "It would be for September, but it's very preliminary at this point," Collins said.

The division saved $200,000 through earlier starts at several schools last year, she said. The division is not speculating how much it could save this year until trustees decide how many of the nine schools get earlier starts. Secretary-treasurer Rene Appelmans said some schools -- particularly French immersion schools, which have a lot of students bused -- already start at 8:15, 8:20 or 8:30 a.m.

The plan would allow the division to run some school buses on multiple routes; kids starting at 8:15 a.m. would be dismissed at 2:45 p.m.

Daycare arrangements are a major factor in consultations with parents, said Collins. Many schools have before-and-after care programs as well.

"There isn't a blueprint" that fits every school, Appelmans said.

The division buses kids who live more than 1.6 kilometres from their school, special needs children and elementary school kids who have to cross a major roadway to get to school.

Collins said the division will let parents know by June.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 11, 2014 B1

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