All seven schools in the Milford School District will have new start and dismissal times when the 2012-2013 school year begins on Aug. 27.

All seven schools in the Milford School District will have new start and dismissal times when the 2012-2013 school year begins on Aug. 27.

After weeks of debate and nearly a dozen proposals, Milford’s school board on Monday unanimously approved a final daily schedule for students, teachers and buses.

“We probably should have started this process earlier,” board president Patrick Emory said. “But right now we just want to have something in place so everyone can get the information and start planning.”

Interim Superintendent Sylvia Henderson said the changes were needed after the school district opted to end its former A/B schedule, which gave students different class schedules on different days of the week.

The elimination of that class schedule last winter necessitated changes to the federally mandated teacher planning times, which in required a change in school schedules.

Several school principals said Monday they are in favor of the new schedule.

“This is exactly what we were looking for,” said Beth Conaway, principal at the Morris Early Childhood Center. “It provides teachers with 45 minutes of planning time after students have left and it gives us consistent hours Monday through Friday.”

Milford Middle School Principal Nancy Carnevale said she has come up with a plan to address parent concerns about the later Wednesday start time at her school.

“The big concern was that parents would have to leave for work before getting their kids to school and the students would be responsible for getting themselves on the buses,” she said. “We plan to offer open library hours for students who need to arrive early.”

Some of the district’s bus contractors, however, raised concerned about the logistics of the new start times and their potential impact on student safety.

While some buses would transport students only to Morris and Milford Middle School, other buses would drop off elementary school students before picking up students for Milford Central Academy and Milford High School.

The contractors said they’re not convinced that allowing only 45 minutes between the drop off times is realistic.

“It can take 15 minutes for us to get from the elementary school to the first child on the second run, depending on traffic and the lights,” Hill said. “That leaves us a half hour of load time. I don’t want administrators leaning on bus drivers because they were handed a schedule that doesn’t work.”

Hill also said the 7:35 a.m. arrival time for buses at the elementary schools means some children will be picked up before sunrise during winter months.

He said that could create a dangerous scenario.

“When it’s cold out, their mothers says don’t go out until the bus comes,” he said. “Then you’ve got a situation where they’re running for the bus in the dark but the bus driver can’t see them.”

Heinz Retzloff, the district’s director of operations, said he is confident that school administrators and the bus contractors can make the new schedule work.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a cooperative venture,” he said. “I will meet with the contractors and if the routes are too long in some areas, we may have to add more buses to our fleet.”

Emory said the school board could revisit the issue if the new schedule becomes too problematic.

“There are some pieces that might be a little tight, but we won’t know until we go through it,” he said. “If we see something that needs fixing, we will come back to it.”

To view the Milford School District's new school-by-school schedule, click here or check out the Milford Beacon's July 12 edition.