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Bus routes, schedule also changing

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - School buses line up outside Grant Watts and Otto Petersen elementary schools in Scappoose on the first day of school last September. Both the school and bus schedules are changing throughout the district, beginning next month.The school day will be longer at all of Scappoose’s neighborhood public schools in this coming school year, and all will be starting and ending their days at around the same time.

The school hours for the 2015-16 school year are:

  • 8:15 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. at the elementary level
  • 8:20 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. at Scappoose Middle School
  • 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. at Scappoose High School
  • By way of comparison, last year’s school hours were:

  • 8:15 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. at Warren Elementary School
  • 8:30 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. at Grant Watts and Otto Petersen elementary schools
  • 8:20 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. at Scappoose Middle School
  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Scappoose High School
  • While the school day for high school students will actually be ending five minutes earlier this year, the morning bell will be ringing 20 minutes before it did last year.

    The change is smallest at the middle school, which will have its day lengthened by just five minutes in total.

    However, at the elementary levels, students will have significantly longer days. Warren Elementary students will be staying in school 35 minutes later than they did last year, while at Grant Watts and Petersen, the day is being extended by 15 minutes at both the beginning and end.

    Stephen Jupe, superintendent of the Scappoose School District, said the district decided to make the changes after the state of Oregon adopted more stringent requirements for educational hours. He predicted the longer school days will be a positive change for students.

    “I think the kids are going to have an astoundingly good experience in school,” he said.

    Jupe also noted that the elementary school day has breaks in classroom learning that are not present at higher grade levels, such as recess, so younger students still will not be spending as much time in their seats as older students.

    The teachers’ union has been informed of the changes, although its approval is not required, Jupe said.

    Changes to busing are also coming, alongside the more uniform school schedules, according to Jupe.

    “The change in day length and trying to provide consistency with the school day ... also helps us create shorter bus routes for kids,” he said. “I think we’ve found a way to do that so that kids are on that bus less than an hour. ... And we’ve got kids right now who are on that bus a ridiculous length of time, and that is obviously not productive for kids or parents or school.”

    Jupe said he “insisted” that First Student Inc., with which the school district has contracted for bus services for decades, “blow up” its old routes and schedule and come up with a new plan for the entire district, which includes all of Sauvie Island, parts of Warren, the Chapman area and even a small portion of rugged northwestern Washington County, in addition to the Scappoose area itself.

    The bus company is still tweaking its new schedule, Jupe said, but more information will be available in the coming weeks.

    The school and bus schedules are not the only changes afoot at the Scappoose School District. The district will also be offering full-day kindergarten for the first time starting this fall, following a state mandate that is also prompting the neighboring St. Helens School District to do the same. The elementary and middle schools are also making standard a new “Response to Intervention” protocol in an effort to keep students who are struggling with lessons from falling behind, Jupe said. In addition, the charter South Columbia Family School, which serves home-schooling families, is expanding its services to the high school level for the first time.

    “Boy, the number of things we’re updating is going to be very interesting,” Jupe said of the upcoming school year.

    The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

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