Monroe County Schools will change school start times at two of 10 schools that were reviewed this past year but can’t do more due to a lack of bus drivers on the payroll.
“I’m sure the board is tired of hearing it,” Superintendent Mark Porter said at Tuesday’s School Board meeting. “The limitation consistently is one of driver availability and labor force. I can’t with confidence recommend other changes if they do require additional drivers.”
Starting this fall, Poinciana Elementary in Key West will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Horace O’Bryant School will be open from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
But the county’s main high schools, Key West, Marathon and Coral Shores in Tavernier, will stick to the 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. schedule.
The school start time discussion arose after board members heard research about adolescent sleep patterns.
“It really became a Lower Keys discussion only,” Porter said.
Board member Bobby Highsmith said he is disappointed Key West High’s start time isn’t budging from 7:30 a.m.
“We spent an awful lot of time on this issue,” Highsmith said, later voting against the recommendations, which passed 4-1. “It’s a simple economics 101, supply and demand. Look at increasing compensation and making it a more appealing job to hire more bus drivers. I don’t think it’s anything more difficult than that.”
The board meets June 13 at Marathon Middle High School starting with a 3 p.m. workshop.
Board member Ron Martin asked for more information on the bus driver issue.
“The public needs to know that, too,” Martin said. “People tell me, well just hire more. We try to hire more bus drivers and we’ve talked of ways to entice people into applying.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen