Richmond Hill Middle School students will be able to sleep a little later than students at other Bryan County schools this year.
However, their school day will end later than anyone else’s.
A projected 4 percent enrollment increase in the district and the addition of the newly-constructed McAllister Elementary required officials to modify the bus routes in south Bryan County.
The one major change for 2015-16 was to schedule classes at Richmond Hill Middle an hour later than last year, to start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.
“The only one that had a significant change was the middle school,” Bryan County Schools Superintendent Paul Brooksher said.
To accommodate all bus routes, Bryan County for the first time has adopted a three-tiered schedule of starting and ending times. RHMS will be the lone school in the latest of the three tiers.
Richmond Hill Middle will be at capacity with a projected enrollment around 1,650, according to Brooksher. Running just the RHMS routes requires 24 to 26 buses, he said.
“Richmond Hill Middle School has the highest bus ridership of all of our levels,” Brooksher said. “So they have to sit in a tier by themselves. They can’t be mixed with the high school. They can’t be mixed with elementary schools.”
McAllister Elementary’s routes will require 10 buses, Brooksher said, and south Bryan’s other three elementary schools – Richmond Hill Primary, Richmond Hill Elementary and Carver Elementary – will need a total of 25. Richmond Hill High School will run 16 buses.
“A lot of folks think we can run (the routes) all at the same time,” Brooksher said. “We just can’t do that. It’s impossible. And I think the citizens riding in the morning would hate me for it because the traffic would be a nightmare.”
McAllister Elementary and Richmond Hill High will have the county’s earliest start times, beginning at 7:40 a.m. and ending at 2:40 p.m. Carver Elementary and Richmond Hill Elementary will have 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. schedules, Richmond Hill Primary will be right behind at 8:15 to 3:15, and Richmond Hill Middle will be the late starter at 8:45.
“Were going to evaluate and see how effective it is,” Brooksher said of the three-tiered start times for south Bryan schools.
That set-up is not necessary in north Bryan County, where the four schools all have similar schedules.
The 2015-16 start times will be 8 a.m. for Bryan County Middle and Bryan County High, 8:10 for Lanier Primary and 8:15 for Bryan County Elementary. Lanier Primary will end the school day at 3 p.m., followed by BCHS at 3:05, BCMS at 3:10 and BCES at 3:20.
One of the factors in determining bus routes, Brooksher said, was a challenge faced not only in Bryan County but by schools throughout the country.
“By the way,” he said, “they’re not growing new bus drivers.”