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The Anne Arundel Board of Education will host four town hall meetings and a Student Member of the Board Leadership Forum over the next four months, in an effort to “collect feedback and input as well as provide a platform for students to voice their concerns,” according to a press release. In addition, the school board will hold a public workshop to discuss the transportation department.

The four town hall meetings are set for 6 to 8 p.m. for Feb. 25 at North County High School, March 19 at Northeast High School, April 8 at Meade High and May 7 at Southern High School.

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The student leadership forum will be held on March 12 at Severna Park High from 6 to 8 p.m.

A public workshop to discuss the recommendations presented by the transportation consultant will be held on March 10 in the board room on Riva Road. During the workshop, the consultant from Prismatic Services Inc. will attend “to examine potential efficiencies as they relate to Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ student transportation services,” the release stated.

The workshop comes after Vice President Melissa Ellis motioned that the school board holds a workshop “to study the issue and to come with a solution,” she said in a January school board meeting. The transportation report outlined 27 recommendations that could improve county public schools, and concluded that the system currently struggles with “a lack of procedural guidelines, legacy ways of work and limited use of technology,” according to the report.

The nearly 180-page report conducted surveys with parents and school employees, collected data and field observations to enlist ways that the transportation department could improve. The recommendations review ways the department can not only improve efficiency but also effectiveness.

Within the transportation department, the report recommended items like providing training, improving hiring and recruitment, revising job descriptions, reviewing performances, and redesigning the workflow of staff all in an effort to better the transportation team.

One of the most anticipated results of the report was on the future of school start times. Two scenarios presented by the consultant could move elementary schools to 8 a.m. and high schools and middle schools to 9 a.m., or move elementary schools to 7:30 a.m., high schools to 8:15 a.m. and middle schools to 9 a.m.

Both scenarios could improve the current routing because both examples have fewer runs and less morning mileage. The scenarios would also increase students per bus by either 50, for the first scenario, or 39, for the second, in comparison to the current 33 students per bus. But ultimately, called the school start times a “leadership decision, not a transportation decision.”

Though the March 10 workshop is open to the public, the public will not be allowed to ask questions or testify.

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