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The Ellensburg School Board finalized start and end times for each school in the district at the board meeting Wednesday night.

Ellensburg High School will open at 7:25 a.m. and close and 2:05 p.m., with Morgan Middle School having classes from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Elementary schools open about an hour later starting with Valley View and Mount Stuart at 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ida Nason Aronica will start at 8:50 a.m. and finish at 3:20 p.m. Lincoln Elementary will be closed for renovations with those students attending Ida Nason Aronica for 2021-22.

The district was forced to re-evaluate the start/end times of schools because it did not have enough bus drivers to maintain the previous schedule, as many left over the past year. Therefore, in order to create more manageable start/end times for students and families in the district, ESD had to re-evaluate the transportation system.

After two months of looking for a new system, the school board voted on a final model.

This model would have buses start the day by picking up students for EHS and MMS. This would be all 16 busses, and it would be a multi-school runs which means MMS and EHS students would ride together.

The 16 buses will then be split into two teams of eight, with one team picking up elementary-level students. The transportation description provided by Superintendent Jinger Haberer states, “To accommodate the loading zone capacities at the ES (elementary school) and remove some bell time staggering buses were split in the morning with 8 buses coming into Mount Stuart ES (Elementary School) and 8 buses coming into Valley View ES at roughly the same time.”

District officials worked to reduce the gap between start/end times of elementary and secondary level schools to about an hour, which has halved the current tiered start schedule.

This decision was recommended to the board by Haberer. She had been talking with Transportation Director Eric Engle, who had created the options alongside a team of people.

The school district has been working to close this gap for close to two months, and has looked at a number of other options. One possibility being considered was a reevaluation of the boundary model. However, Haberer said the district looked at these possibilities and found re-organizing the boundary system wouldn’t reduce the gap between start/end times.

However, the boundary system will still have to be re-adjusted for the following school year when the district has four elementary schools. This issue is something the district plans to work on over the following year.

“I really appreciate not rushing on the boundaries,” said board member Hilda Peña-Alfaro. “They are really important for the district and it’s also very, very important that we are careful that the boundaries are equitable… so I appreciate thinking about it carefully and not rushing it.”

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