Last year, students in high school magnet programs could get bus service within their neighborhoods to transport them directly to their respective magnet schools. That direct service will end for students enrolled in the Science and Mathematics Academy at Aberdeen High School, the Global Studies Program/International Baccalaureate Program at Edgewood High School and the Natural Resources and Agricultural Science Program at North Harford High School.

In all, Kranefeld said, 420 students will be affected. They will be asked to report to their home high schools where a bus will then transport them to and from their magnet schools. Because of a difference in schedule times, however, magnet students would not be able to use their home schools' regular bus, Kranefeld said, making it the parents' responsibility to get children to and from home schools.

Not affected by the depot set-up are students at Harford Technical High School, who also come from all over the county. Kranefeld said they will continue to receive regular bus service in their neighborhoods.

She also said while other school systems use shopping center parking lots and recreation areas as depot sites, "HCPS feels the safest practice is to have students wait for their bus on HCPS property."

In addition to cutting costs by using fewer buses, Kranefeld said in some cases, "this should reduce the time these students spend on the buses."

Consolidated stops

HCPS said middle and high school bus routes are being reconfigured to decrease the number of stops, as well as the length of the routes, where possible.

"What this means is where you might have had five stops along one road, there might now be three," Kranefeld explained. As a result, she said, some students may have to walk a little farther.

She also emphasized that while this will affect both high school and middle school students who ride the bus, the two groups will still ride different buses to their respective schools. Only the North Harford High and Middle buses will continue to be shared as they have been in the past, she said.

Reducing the number of stops for middle and high school students will reduce the cost of completing a bus run, HCPS said.

Route information

Bus routes are still being finalized for the 2013-14 school year, HCPS said.

Routes, as well as bus stop locations, pick-up and drop-off times and bus numbers, will be posted on the school system's website as soon as they are available. An automated call will be made to notify parents/guardians when the information is posted.

"Parents are urged to review the routes and pay close attention to stop locations and bus numbers, as they most likely have changed from previous years," the HCPS release states. "Middle and high school parents especially will want to pay close attention to the information and the consolidated stop locations."

If parents of students affected by the transportation changes have not received information, they should visit their child's school Edline website or contact their child's school as soon as possible.