His announcement of a new “School Time Task Force” follows the release of a consultant’s report that lauds CMS transportation planning but criticizes communication of the changes to school hours. The Council of the Great City Schools concluded that CMS used valid information in changing school start and dismissal times, known as bell schedules, to save money on busing in 2011.
“The district has had to make some very difficult decisions (in response to budget cuts) and, for the most part, should be commended for its efforts to respond to the needs and desires of the entire community,” the council’s report says. But it adds that lingering tension over bell schedules “could become a major distraction impeding other critically important work underway in the district.”
The council brought in transportation experts from Boston, Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla., to look at CMS issues connected with busing and bell schedules. It also made comparisons with districts across the country. CMS has agreed to pay up to $18,000 for the report; the final bill hasn’t been submitted.