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OCS Standardizes School Bell Schedules
Beginning with the 2023-2024SY, OCS will operate on standardized daily starting and ending times across the different grade levels. The district’s elementary schools will begin at 8:30 a.m. with bus dismissal at 3:30 p.m. OCS middle schools will begin at 7:30 a.m. with bus dismissal at 2:40 p.m., while the district’s high schools will begin at 7:00 a.m. with bus dismissal at 2:10 p.m. Individual schools will communicate dismissal times and procedures for walkers and car riders if different from bus dismissal times.
The Onslow Early College High School operates on a separate transportation schedule and will maintain their 9:30 a.m. start time with dismissal at 4:30 p.m. The Onslow County Learning Center (OCLC) will operate from 8:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. and the Eastern NC Regional Skills Center will hold classes from 7:45 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School will begin at 7:45 a.m. and dismiss at 2:45 p.m., while Northwoods Elementary Magnet School will start at 8:00 a.m. and dismiss at 3:00 p.m.
Students riding hub buses to the magnet schools will be combined, which will free up three drivers for the Jacksonville district and one driver for the Onslow County Learning Center.
With nearly 70 bus driver vacancies, district transportation staff were faced with the need to adjust daily bus schedules. Standardizing daily start and end times will allow the district to maximize the efficiency of bus routes and available drivers, resulting in less wait time for students.
Currently, when two schools have similar start times, transportation staff must divide the total number of buses available between the two sites, resulting in fewer available buses. With the standardization of bell times, all available buses can be used for one site, resulting in shorter routes with less crowded buses.
The change will also lead to less waiting for buses in the afternoon, which will reduce the stress on staff who are currently watching students after school while buses make double runs.
Staggered start times across grade spans will also help ease traffic congestion at schools located near each other which currently have similar arrival and dismissal times. The separation between daily start times for elementary, middle, and high schools will be especially helpful in the Swansboro and Jacksonville Commons areas which have multiple schools in close proximity.
In addition to transportation efficiency benefits, standardized starting and ending times will provide equitable instructional time at all schools, allowing teachers and administrators to maximize time with their students. High schools will see less missed class time for their student-athletes, and the district will have an increased ability to schedule internal virtual classes for schools who may have vacancies in hard-to-fill areas. The change will also positively impact staff, as standardized early-release dismissal times will better facilitate inter-school collaboration on early-release professional development days.
OCS staff will be working with the New River YMCA, Brigade Boys & Girls Club, and city and county programs to look at the development of before- and after-school options where needed.