HWDSB and HWCDSB Pausing School Bell Time Study
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) have paused their joint bell time study through the Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation System (HWSTS). The pause of the bell time study means that school bell times will not be changing for September 2020.
To help reduce the number of buses on the road and to make routes more efficient, both school boards have instead looked at all exceptions currently being provided to families and are eliminating those that no longer require exceptions. The review of exceptions looked at items such as walkways that were not previously identified, consistency with routes between both boards, and reviewing the walking distances to ensure they are consistent. Five hundred and forty-two HWDSB students across 11 schools are impacted by the cancelling of these exceptions, while 1,100 HWCDSB students are affected at 29 schools. Families affected by the cancellation of any exceptions will receive a letter at the end of March, outlining the reason the exception is no longer being accepted.
“HWDSB was ready to move forward with the joint bell time study for September 2020, however, we are part of a consortium that consists of both school boards,” said Alex Johnstone, Chair of HWDSB. “We continue to be very concerned about buses arriving late to schools. We will monitor how the removal of the exceptions impacts transportation services in the fall. However, we know that with our transportation contract up for renewal in 2020-2021 and seeing an average of 30 per cent increases across the province, we will have to adjust our bell times for September 2021.”
“It became clear to our board that further study was required with regard to the parameters of the bell time study,” said Patrick J. Daly, Chairperson for the HWCDSB. “In the interim, it is our real hope that the cancellation of exceptions will not only mitigate some of the challenges of the past year in properly servicing routes, but will enable both boards to achieve notable efficiencies as our bus operator contracts come due.”
The governance committee for HWSTS, which consists of members from both school boards, will re-evaluate the need for a bell time study in the fall, once they have reviewed the data from the elimination of exceptions.