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New start times proposed for 9 Wichita schools

WICHITA — Start times at nine Wichita schools would change next year if leaders approve a cost-cutting measure proposed tonight.

Superintendent John Allison told school board members that adjusting the schools' schedules would eliminate the need for 13 buses, saving about $450,000 in transportation and fuel costs.

According to the plan, Northeast Magnet High School and five middle schools -- Brooks, Jardine, Allison, Mayberry and Blackbear Bosin Alternative -- would start at 7 a.m. The schools currently start at 7:10 or 7:15 a.m.

Start times at three alternative schools -- Sowers, Wells and Greiffenstein -- would shift from 7:50 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The change would allow the district to "triple route" buses sent to those schools, Allison said. Triple routing means one bus is used to transport students at each of three start times: 7 a.m., 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The change in bell times would not affect transportation services to those schools, with the exception of the bus pick-up and drop-off times, Allison said.

The proposal came during an update on the status of the district's 2011-12 budget. Allison has said a projected $30 million shortfall in state aid is "a real concern" that is likely to once again mean job losses and the elimination of programs and services.

School leaders voted last month to re-evaluate the district's $370 million bond issue. Board members also pledged to review the district's system for busing students, potentially reducing the number of buses and the cost associated with running them.

An advisory group of about 60 parents, school employees and community members has begun meeting regularly to look at this year's budget picture and develop a list of potential cuts.

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