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Increasing enrollment, bus driver shortages lead to earlier starts for Cheney schools

Four elementary schools are planned to start an hour later and all three of their secondary schools are planned to start an hour later.

CHENEY, Wash. — In an expected announcement, the Cheney School District is changing the time students will arrive at school for this coming year.

The Cheney School District is changing some of their schools start times. This is because of increasing enrollment and a limited number of bus drivers. The school district predicts staggering times will help with attendance and extracurriculars.

Four elementary schools are planned to start an hour later and all three of their secondary schools are scheduled to start earlier. For some parents, they are in favor of the time change.

"I have no issue with it. My oldest who goes to Westwood Middle School, he walks to school, he does watch his little brother sometimes, so it makes it easier having my oldest be home when my youngest gets off the bus," said Suzan Gilmer, a Cheney Parent.

But for other parents, the time change is not ideal. One parent, Whitney Norred, is frustrated at how she'll be able to drop off all her kids. Norred is a parent of five students.

"I don't think that these schedules are very accommodating. I think that the original pre-COVID is where we need to get back where there were 10 to 15 minutes in between schools that allowed parents time to get kids to and from school."

Increasing enrollment and a bus driver shortage were the main reasons that the time change was needed. In October of 2014, the Cheney School District had around 4,500 students. In the past school year, the district had almost 1,000 more.

With the notification of the time change, one parent quickly searched for childcare.

"That's the first thing I thought, where am I going to send my kids. I'm at work. I immediately start looking for a babysitter or a daycare to put my kids," said Brayan Urzua, a parent of two elementary students.

In an email to parents, the district said that an earlier start and end time would reduce the number of classes missed by students who participated in extracurriculars at Cheney High School by 50%. The recommendation for the start time change was approved in May and the schedule was finalized in June.

These are the new start times for schools starting this school year:

Cheney Middle School, Westwood Middle School, Cheney High School

7:50 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Salnave Elementary

7:50 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Betz Elementary, Snowdon Elementary, Sunset Elementary, Windsor Elementary 

8:50 a.m. – 3:20 p.m.

HomeWorks!

8:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Three Springs High School

8:05 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

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