Parents express concern over Colleton County Schools’ new bell schedule

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 7:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2022 at 5:17 AM EDT
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WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - Some Colleton County elementary schoolers will have to be at the bus stop as early as 6 a.m. starting this school year, and parents are not happy.

The district just announced its new bell schedule within a month of the first day of school, and it is already receiving backlash, especially on Facebook.

The schools affected by the new bell schedule are listed below:

7:00 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.

- Bells Elementary School

- Cottageville Elementary School

- Hendersonville Elementary School

8:00 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.

- Northside Elementary School

- Forest Hills Elementary School

- Black Street Early Childhood Center

8:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

- Colleton County Middle School

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

- Colleton County High School

Most parents say they do not want their elementary schoolers starting so early and their high schoolers ending so late.

Kevin Canaday, a father of three kids in Colleton County School District, says this is causing issues for parents who rely on childcare services after school. He says it is creating 11–12-hour days for elementary schoolers.

“Elementary schools K-4, K-5, first graders, who are getting their foundations of education and having them start this early in the day, so they’re getting out of school if I remember correctly is 1:45,” Canaday said. “So, by the time they get home, there’s really not going to be anyone there to help them with homework or anything like that because they’re getting home so early.”

William Bowman Jr., the chairperson for Colleton County Schools, says this change came from a shortage of bus drivers. He says the district should have 65 drivers, but they are short 15 for this school year.

He says Dr. Vallerie Cave, Colleton County Schools’ Superintendent, did not want bus drivers to be making triple or quadruple routes to fill in for the missing drivers. He says if they did this, it would result in kids not arriving at school until 10 or 11:00 in the morning.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth in all of our core subject areas across all of our grade levels,” Bowman Jr. said. “So, we want to continue with that academic progress, and a big part of that continuation is making sure that our students receive the proper instruction. And if students are getting to school at 10 or 11:00 in the morning, they’re missing a huge part of instruction.”

Bowman says he encourages everyone to apply to be a bus driver for Colleton County School District.

There will also be a school board meeting on Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m., where the board will explain more of why they made these changes.

The South Carolina Department of Education recently launched the “Step Up SC” campaign, which highlights open bus driver and technician positions across the state.

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