Howard County public schools will have new start times — again — beginning next week, with students starting class a few minutes earlier or later per a schedule Superintendent Michael Martirano released Wednesday afternoon.
The changes, effective Sept. 20, follow a tumultuous first week of school when buses were delayed and a new transportation contractor, Zum Services, canceled 54 bus routes. Martirano said last week that service has improved. Announcing the changed start times Wednesday, he noted daily delays have continued.
“It has been frustrating to know that thousands of students are experiencing delays that have interrupted instructional time at the beginning of the day and that some students are getting dropped off nearly two hours after their dismissal,” he said in the Wednesday news release, attributing the continued issues on a “domino effect” prompted by route timing he called “insufficient,” as well as traffic delays and competition with students driving or being driven to school.
HCPSS Communications Director Brian Bassett said busing delays have continued to plague the school system.
“We are still seeing students whose schools dismiss at 3:45 p.m. not getting picked up on time and are not dropping the last group of students at home until 5:30 p.m.,” Bassett said.
The Howard school board adopted new start times in February, which started on the first day of school Aug. 28. Martirano said the most recent adjustments going into effect next week fall under a board policy that allows his administration to change start times by 10 minutes or less. The start times effective Sept. 20 are based on the tier system established by the board’s February changes.
All Howard high schools, six middle schools as well as Cedar Lane School and the Homewood Center fall under Tier 1, which currently starts at 8 a.m. Next Wednesday, those schools will start at 7:50 a.m. and dismiss 10 minutes earlier.
The 14 middle schools that fall under Tier 2 will start 10 minutes earlier, now beginning at 8:30 a.m. and dismissing at 3:15 p.m., while the 14 elementary schools in that group will start later, at 8:45 a.m.
Tier 3, which consists of 28 elementary schools, will now start 10 minutes later, at 9:25 a.m.
For more information, including new AM/PM Pre-K schedules, visit the school system’s updated start time page.