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Reminder: Changes in Bell Schedules, Transportation in 2015-2016

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Reminder: Changes in Bell Schedules, Transportation in 2015-2016
Posted on 08/18/2015

The Portland Public Schools is reminding families that students will get 20 more minutes of learning time each school day this fall. To accommodate the longer student day, most school bell schedules and school bus transportation will be adjusted.

Transportation changes include having Portland METRO buses transport high school students to and from classes and extracurricular activities. Also, district school bus routes for elementary and middle school students will become more standardized and consolidated this year – school buses will use primary roadways and fewer side streets. That change will reduce route times and increase efficiency.

“We thank our families for supporting these changes, which allow us to have a 6.5-hour day for our students, increasing their instructional time and putting our district in line with neighboring districts,” said Interim Portland Public Schools Superintendent Jeanne Crocker. “We will be working closely with families to communicate about the changes and to ensure this transition is as seamless as possible.”

The standard hours of the new bell schedules are as follows:

• Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high schools: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS): 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• Lyman Moore, Lincoln and King middle schools: 7:55 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

• Riverton, Ocean Avenue and Reiche elementary schools: 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

• Hall, East End, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot elementary schools: 8:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

• Bayside Learning Community: 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

Peaks Island and Cliff Island schools will maintain the schedule they had in the 2014-2015 school year.

Because the district has a limited number of school buses, the elementary schools have been divided into two groups to allow for buses to make all runs necessary. And, to reach each school on time with the new bell schedules, school bus routes will be as short as possible.

To achieve that goal, bus routes will now follow standardized neighborhood boundaries using primary roadways and fewer side streets. That is a change from past practice when many routes took more than 40 minutes as buses meandered up and down side streets to pick up children in front of their homes. Now, students who may have been picked up at their homes may have to walk to catch the school bus on a primary roadway. To enhance safety, school buses will load and unload only on the right side on such roadways.

The changes carry a number of benefits. They will enable more school buses to be available at each school site, which will expedite the dismissal process. In addition, the changes will be safer because buses making frequent bus stops at individual houses on side streets can be a safety hazard as impatient drivers attempt to go around them. And they will ensure that students travel to and from school in an expeditious manner.

The METRO plan for most high school students gives the school district more flexibility when it comes to transportation. Specialized school bus transportation will continue to be provided for high school students who need it.

METRO and the district will continue their work with high school students and families, which began in the spring, to ensure the new transportation plan goes smoothly. The efforts have included free METRO summer bus passes for high school students. Many students have used the passes to travel to jobs or to get around this summer, familiarizing themselves with the bus system in the process. And a newly designed bus route that will make it easier for students to get to their high schools officially launched on Aug. 16.

The Portland Public Schools will be providing families with more specific information about their children’s school bus routes and about METRO via emails, postcards and announcements on the district website and in social media before school starts.

More information about METRO can be obtained by visiting www.gpmetrobus.com or calling 774-0351.