HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Due to a shortage of bus drivers and rising costs, the bell will be ringing earlier at Hamden Public Schools starting next academic year.
The district’s board of education voted Tuesday to start the school day 10 minutes earlier beginning in the 2023-24 school year. The vote was not unanimous.
The district said the reason is to make bus schedules more efficient after years of students left waiting.
According to the superintendent, the district had 83 buses prior to the pandemic. That’s dropped to 72 due to staffing shortages and the district’s budget.
Board of education members pointed to young students who will have to wait for buses in the dark, and the impact that starting school earlier will have on students who already are waking up early.
The district’s bus company, First Student, said the earlier start allows it to eliminate a fourth round of student pickup and drop-offs by making elementary schools start and end at the same time.
Parents are torn.
“That’s a very large change,” Valen Diaz said. “That’s going to be very difficult for our family.”
Others said the change won’t have much of an impact.
“Ten minutes isn’t going to make that much of a difference as long as they are in schools and not on the streets, that’s what matters and getting their education,” Gregory Ward said.
The high school will now start at 7:20 a.m., the middle school will start at 8 a.m. and elementary schools will start at 8:35 a.m.
Students on Wednesday were shocked.
“Woah, woah, woah big fella,” said Joviell Cabrere Gomez, a freshman at Hamden High School. “Chill out. I’m not doing that!”
High school students said the change is a step in the wrong direction.
“It’s more stressful than it already is, because sometimes you have to get that work done at the end of the night and you’re up later,” said Nasir Williams, a freshman at Hamden High School.
Kwaniel Moody, a freshman, said he already wakes up at 5 a.m.
“I feel tired, so I would not like that at all,” he said.
The original proposal brought up last summer called for starting an entire hour earlier.
School officials said bus drivers will start trying out this schedule change without students onboard in order to ensure buses arrive on time.