DCS board hears proposal for new, "staggered" bell schedule

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Summer vacation starts in six weeks for Dothan city students, but it will be anything but relaxing for administrators.

The restructuring plan is in full swing, and the district is already starting to move things around.

Moving a family of 5 is tough, how about 4500?

The school district is still in the early stages of moving, but the board wanted to take a minute to hear from a few different departments to see how they're handling it.

One department is hoping for a "staggering" change.

"Students are sometimes dropped an hour before the school day starts, and they're there an hour after the school day ends,” said Dothan City Schools Transportation Director Jay Bruner.

Jay Bruner has noticed some inefficiency with transportation in Dothan City Schools.

With the schools re-structuring, he thought it might be time to re-structure transportation.

"Georgia's been staggering for over 20 years in many of their school districts,” said Bruner. “Other school districts that already stagger in Alabama would be: Huntsville, Tuscaloosa City, Auburn City and Hoover."

Bruner proposed the idea of "staggering" to the school board during a work session.

It would mean the elementary, middle and high schools would start and end at different times.

Kids wouldn't be on the bus for so long, and they would only be with students around the same age.

"Since we are doing a complete change here, it was time to look at the fact of, 'Why is it that every single bus and every single school has to start at the same time?'" said Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards.

The school board will vote on whether or not to stagger the bell times at its regular meeting on Monday, but that won't be the only issue they vote on.

"Let's say you're zoned for this school,” said Edwards. “This school is going to be a school for the arts, but you may want your child to go to the expeditionary learning school or the international baccalaureate school."

The superintendent is asking the board to approve "school choice," where parents can apply to have their child enrolled at a different school in the district than what they're zoned for.

If there aren't enough open seats at a school, the board would do a lottery and randomly select names.

In between the official business, the school board also thanked a group of JROTC students from Northview that has spent two weeks helping to move books and supplies from one school to the next.

"We're a team, we're working hard,” said Edwards. “Everybody has a part to play, and they're all doing it. I think it's very exciting."

WTVY posted a picture of the proposed bell schedule on its Facebook page.

Some parents commented that having their elementary and middle school students released over an hour and a half apart may cause some scheduling headaches.

The school board will vote on the staggered schedule and school choice issues at its next meeting, Monday night at Beverlye Magnet School.

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