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Bedford junior high school students to start class earlier next year due to late buses

Students at a junior high school in Bedford are going to have get up a bit earlier for class next year, thanks in part to buses arriving late in the morning.

A letter from Rocky Lake Junior High School principal Debbie Metherall sent to parents and guardians states that conflicting bus schedules have resulted in several students being late to class this year.

As a result, the school moved to push classes to start 35 minutes earlier at 8:10 a.m. — rather than the original 8:45 a.m. — and will end at 1:55 p.m. The move will also cut the lunch hour from 50 minutes to 35.

In the letter, Metherall said the change will allow the school to adopt the same schedule as Madeline Symonds Middle School and stagger lunch times to make better use of the gymnasium.

A call for comment to Metherall went unanswered.

Halifax Regional Centre for Education spokesperson Doug Hadley says the issue of students arriving late has been something teachers and staff have dealt with all year.

“We wouldn’t have considered it if there was no benefit or opportunity for the school to help with situation,” Hadley said. “We asked the school and [the] school said, ‘Look, we would consider this because we think it can address another issue for us.’”

The busing schedule in Bedford got off to a rocky start in September, with dozens of children left stranded at Basinview Drive Community School due to buses showing up late, early or not at all. Several parents were also voicing frustrations with scattered morning pick-up times.

Hadley says with the majority of Bedford-area elementary schools starting around 8:45 a.m., it’s put a “tremendous impact” on busing in the community.

“By removing 800 students from that, 21 buses, and having them travel a little bit earlier, it will mean less traffic on the roads but it will also mean that (Rocky Lake) will be the first bus routes in Bedford each day,” Hadley said.

“It should go a long way towards addressing the late busing issue they’ve been faced with.”

Hadley noted that the move will also benefit after-school sports programs, as Madeline Symonds Middle School also ends for the day at 1:55 p.m.

Hadley says the school board has received “less than a handful” of complaints, and adds that if the change in times doesn’t work out, they’ll look at other options.

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