TPS Considers Changing Start Times

Wednesday, June 3rd 2009, 5:37 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Public Schools could shake up school start times.

The district is considering two proposals that would eliminate about 20 bus routes and save nearly half a million dollars, but the schedule switch isn't going over well with some TPS parents.

It seems nothing makes parents more anxious than tinkering with the school clock, and some say they're not just upset about the start times, but the timing of these proposals.

TPS is jarring parents out of a summer slumber with a possible change in school start times. The district is looking to cut costs by juggling the start of the school day.

A few minutes could trim about 20 bus routes and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"And the transportation department came back and said if we can get this spread in times then we can save $405,000, and I think that is a significant savings," TPS Superintendent Keith Ballard said.

The savings could cost some folks a little sleep.

The district is proposing pushing up the start of the elementary school day by 10 minutes and rolling back the high school day by 10.

"To get a young child up and going is one of the biggest chores of the day," said Karen Gilbert, president of the Tulsa Council of PTA's.

Some parents like Gilbert say that's too early for TPS's youngest students. Other parents had a similar reaction so the district came up with a second alternative.

"We could roll the high school back 20 minutes and the middle school 10 and not impact the elementary at all," Ballard said.

The TPS superintendent says he wanted to get parent's input, so he recorded an automated message to send out to about 26,000 homes.

"Summer time is vacation time," Gilbert said. "It's camp time, vacations. No one's at home to answer the phone."

Despite TPS's efforts, Gilbert says the timing of the announcement works against the district and the change in times doesn't work for her and many other parents.

"You know if it takes cutting administrative costs, cutting the budgets at the service center or somewhere else, but don't take it out on the students," Gilbert said.

You can give your two cents by calling the district's hotline at 746-6500.

Read an outline of the plans proposed by TPS.