Early dismissal time for elementary school students will come a little earlier in the coming school year, under schedule changes announced to parents Monday by Harford County Public Schools. Students will now be dismissed 3 hours early, rather than 2 ½ hours early on the ten early dismissal days designated each year for elementary teacher planning. In the 2013-14 calendar, such days are scheduled once per month on a Friday.
“The early dismissal time was moved up by 30 minutes in order to allow time for our buses to more efficiently accommodate all stops and schedules on early dismissal days”, according to Teri Kranefeld, HCPS manager of communications.
For most elementary school parents, the change means that students will get out at 12:30 p.m. rather than 1:00 p.m. on early dismissal days. Elementary students on fourth-tier busing will get out at 1:00 p.m. rather than 1:30 p.m. The first early dismissal day scheduled in the new school year is September 20, 2013. The complete list appears below.
The schedule change, announced one week before the start of school on August 26, comes amid a number of budget-related cutbacks to bus service affecting elementary, middle and high school students. The service cuts were implemented to save $890,000 in the fiscal year 2014 budget, sparking a backlash from some parents.
• Consolidated bus stops implemented for middle and high school students: Stops have been reconfigured to decrease the number of stops and shorten routes where possible.
• Four elementary schools added to the fourth tier bus schedule: Bakerfield, Red Pump, Bel Air and Forest Lakes elementary schools will now operate on the fourth tier bus schedule, meaning that school will start at 9:30 a.m., and students will be dismissed at 4:00 p.m. on regular school days.
• Exceptions to transportation policy eliminated: As a matter of policy, elementary students who live within a one-mile radius of school, and middle and high school students who live within a one-and-a-half-mile radius, are not eligible for bus service. Previously granted waivers to this policy have been eliminated; exemptions were lifted.
• Depot stop system implemented for magnet programs: Bus service for students enrolled in magnet programs at Aberdeen, Edgewood, and North Harford high schools has been reduced to a depot stop system. Parents are responsible for getting their student to and from their chosen depot stop located at any one of nine county public high schools. Depot options for afternoon only include Harford County Public Library locations in Jarrettsville and Fallston.
Bus routes and information for all students were posted in early August. School officials have urged all parents to pay close attention to bus stop locations and bus numbers, indicating they had most likely changed from prior years.
Below is the text of the Monday phone message to parents announcing the schedule change for elementary school early dismissal days:
“Subject: 2013-14 Elementary Early Dismissal Schedule Announcements
Good evening. This is Harford County Public Schools calling parents of all elementary school students with important information regarding the elementary early dismissal schedule for this school year. You may be aware that each year there are 10 elementary early dismissal days scheduled throughout the school year, one per month always scheduled on a Friday. New this year, all elementary schools will dismiss 3 hours early on those elementary early dismissal days. A full schedule can be found on the school system website by visiting www.hcps.org, clicking on the ‘Back to School’ button on the homepage and scrolling down to the link entitled “2013-14 Elementary Early Dismissal Schedule.” Reminder notifications will continue to be made throughout the year via this notification system. However, we wanted you to be aware of the schedule as you were planning out your year. We look forward to welcoming your children back to school next Monday, August 26. Have a great evening.”
Below is the list of all elementary early dismissal days for the 2013-14 school year: