New Middle and High School Schedules for 2020-2021

New Middle and High School Schedules for 2020-2021
Posted on 01/28/2020
This is the image for the news article titled New Middle and High School Schedules for 2020-2021The School District of Pickens County will have new start and dismissal times for middle and high schools, starting in fall of 2020. In the 2020-2021 school year, middle and high schools (with the exception of Dacusville Middle School) will run on a daily schedule of 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.

The purpose of this change is to improve the environment and safety of our buses by separating elementary and high school students.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the change:

Question 1: What is going on with school start times next year?
Answer: Middle and high schools in the School District of Pickens County will start the day at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 3:15 p.m. next year.

Question 2: Are elementary school times changing?
Answer: No. However, Chastain Road Elementary will become a primary school next year, and will have a new start time of 7:50 a.m. as part of that change.

Question 3: Why is the district changing start and dismissal times?
Answer: SDPC wants to separate the bus routes for younger and older students for safety. Unfortunately, riding a bus with teenagers can be frightening for young children. Also, the influence of high school students on elementary students on the bus can lead to discipline issues.

Question 4: Will this impact how early car-rider students can arrive at school?

Answer: No. SDPC administration will maintain its current requirement that schools open their doors to accept car-riders no later than 7:30 a.m. However, some schools begin accepting car-riders earlier at the discretion of the principal, and principals may change how early they open as long as it is at or before 7:30 a.m.

Question 5: Are there any exceptions to the change?
Answer: Dacusville Middle School will remain on its current schedule, and the bus routes for Dacusville Middle and Dacusville Elementary will remain combined. Pickens High School students in the Dacusville area will be on separate routes from the younger students. In addition, SDPC has identified 4 routes to remote areas that may need to continue to combine all ages. Families on these routes will be notified.

Question 6: Will the pick-up and drop-off times for bus riders change?
Answer: Probably. Bus routes change yearly depending on which students are riding each route. In general, pick up times for middle and high school students should be later in the morning.

Question 7: How does this impact the length of the school day?
Answer: In general, the length of each middle and high school’s day will be shortened by a few minutes. The schools will adjust their schedules by shortening transition times between classes. Class times and lunch times will not be shortened. SDPC administration worked with each school to make sure a new schedule was prepared before the school board voted to adopt the change.

Question 8: Has SDPC considered the impact on students who ride the bus with their siblings?
Answer: Yes. We understand the important role of older siblings in many families for ensuring the safety of their younger siblings at bus stops. Buses for elementary students will pick up first so that older siblings can see that their younger siblings safely board the bus.

Question 9: Is this change related to the 2020-2021 calendar and the waiver from state regulations that SDPC announced last fall?
Answer: No.

Question 10: What will students who still arrive early do at school before classes start?
Answer: The activities for students who arrive early will depend on the school. Schools have supervision plans in place, but more engaging activities for students from 7:30-8:30 a.m. is a priority that school and district administrators are working on for next year.

Question 11: Does this change have a financial cost to the district?
Answer: SDPC anticipates at maximum $50,000 in extra transportation costs. Most bus transportation is paid by the state, but South Carolina does not pay for bus transportation of students who live within 1.5 miles of a school. In the interest of safety, SDPC has always offered bus transportation to all students, but the state charges our local district for each additional stop within 1.5 miles of the school. Having elementary and secondary routes separated will result in more of these stops, and additional charges from the state.

Question 12: Did the district announce something about this earlier?
Answer: Yes. SDPC district publicly announced the goal of later start times and the separation of elementary bus routes in 2020-2021 last year when we announced the start time changes for 2019-2020.

Question 13: Does the district plan to change start or dismissal times again after this?
Answer: No. Still, the administration and the board continually listen to feedback from parents about school operations and may make changes accordingly.