Park Hill talks changing start times district-wide

The Park Hill School District has proposed a change to its school start times, beginning next fall. Although the move was announced late last summer, administrators and the board of education are now reviewing options.

District officials say the reasons behind the change are threefold and include safety, savings and to resolve service problems. Start times range from 7:15-7:30 a.m. for the high schools and two middle schools, 8:15-8:30 a.m. for two middles schools and three elementary schools and 9:15-9:30 a.m. for the remainder of the elementary schools. The individual schools are not identified on the summary. School ending times would also be readjusted. Current starting times range from 7:30-8:40 a.m.

Options for proposed start times were posted online at for Tuesday, April 9, the options were officially unveiled at the Thursday, April 11 board of education meeting.

District officials say as the district has grown, it has become more and more difficult for district service provider First Student to keep and hire enough bus drivers. First Student has to use inexperienced substitute drivers and driving trainers often have to fill in on routes. Changing start times would mean fewer drivers are required to drive routes, allowing First Student to hire and keep more experienced drivers.

The driver shortage has caused many problems, including late buses and communication problems, and district officials say streamlining the driver pool would save the district more than $1 million.

The district will accept feedback via the website through 4 p.m. Friday, April 19 and review the survey results. The board is scheduled to vote on the final recommendations at the Thursday, April 25 board meeting. The new hours would take effect in the fall.

Also at the April 11 meeting, returning board members Susan Newburger and Todd Fane were sworn in and the board was reorganized with Bart Klein elected president. Kimberlee Ried was elected vice president and Janice Bolin treasurer.

The district also recently named Sarah Eisenmenger as assistant principal for the LEAD Innovation Studio. She currently works at Park Hill High School. Construction bids for LEAD were also approved, with contractors still working on site utilities and water distribution service. More than $700,000 in bids were approved with CP Excavation. Kansas City Power and Light easement agreements for power lines at Hopewell Elementary School were also reviewed to be approved at a future meeting.