Barrington 220 to keep middle school boundaries, evaluate start times

 
 
Posted9/21/2016 5:30 AM
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The boundaries for the two middle schools in Barrington Area Unit School District 220 will not change if the school board decides to adopt later start times next school year, according to Superintendent Brian Harris.

The decision announced at Tuesday's school board meeting comes after the board had previously said a boundary shift would be included in all three of the start-time options they have been mulling over since the spring.

In June, Harris said 15 minutes of travel time on each bus route would be saved if middle-school boundaries were decided by which side of the Metra railway the students lived on.

But after spending the last two weeks with new bus routing software, the administration concluded that changing the boundaries would only eliminate four school buses, a savings of nearly $55,000. Changing the boundaries also did not reduce the amount of time students spent on buses enough to improve the three options the board is considering.

Harris said the new software helped staff members realize they could be much more efficient. Instead of having buses pick up and drop off high-schoolers, middle-schoolers and elementary-school students, they could save time by having a fleet of buses that only serves Barrington High School and a separate fleet that serves all other schools.

"(The software) has basically given us a much clearer look at our bus routes," Harris said. "It is a complex puzzle."

Because of this, the board changed its position and said boundary changes would not be part of the start times discussion.

The two weeks with the new bus routing software also made the estimated cost of changing start times far less expensive.

In June, district staff members estimated their second option would cost around $450,000. On Tuesday, Linda Klobucher, the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said that option -- which involves the high school starting at 8 a.m., followed by middle schools then elementary schools -- would only cost around $17,740 after the state's reimbursement.

The board will next meet at 7 p.m. Monday to continue discussing start times. They will also work on a start-time survey they plan to send out to the community and review before making their final decision on Nov. 1.

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