New bus route causes school day to start earlier for students in Dover
DOVER - Dover School principal Matt Martyn asked for and received the school board’s blessing on shifting the school day 20 minutes earlier next year, which will mean an 8 am start and a 2:55 pm end of the school day for elementary students. The switch is the result of a Brattleboro-bound bus for Dover middle and high schoolers, which voters approved at Town Meeting.
“I’d like to propose that we shift the start time so that we can allow a single driver to run those two routes,” said Martyn.
Under the new plan, the bus will leave the Dover School’s bus yard around 7:05 each morning to pick up elementary students. Once the bus drops the students off at school for their 8 am start, it will wait about five minutes before departing with secondary students bound for Brattleboro, where school starts at 8:40 am.
“We’re calling that Brattleboro run an ‘express’ run,” said Martyn of the bus, which will travel to and from Brattleboro via Route 30. “There won’t be any stops between the Dover School and Brattleboro.”
After school, said Martyn, is a bit more complicated and will require that two separate buses run. Due to the earlier start time, the school day at the Dover School will also end earlier, at about 2:55 pm. “Both runs have to go at the same time in the afternoon,” said Martyn, noting that elementary students will be on the bus in the afternoon around the same time a bus will depart for Brattleboro.
The new Brattleboro bus is the result of a letter the board received last year from parents who said they had safety concerns about the MOOver, which was at the time the only bus option to Brattleboro. At Town Meeting, parents who supported the new school bus cited concerns such as long bus rides on the MOOver and the fact that it is a public bus and is therefore not exclusive to students.
Ultimately Town Meeting voters opted to support both the new bus run and a contribution that Dover makes to the MOOver annually to ensure that its buses are available to Dover students who choose Brattleboro for secondary education. As a result, the MOOver will continue to run in the morning and afternoon, and will also continue to be the only after-school option for secondary students in Dover, as the Dover School bus will transport students at the official school day end only.
In other transportation changes at the Dover School, a pre-K bus that was run as a trial this year at the school will not continue next year. Martyn said although some families used it, ridership was not high enough to justify running the bus. Pre-K will be a full-day program for 4-year-olds at the school starting next year, but pre-K students are not able to ride the elementary school bus due to required teacher-to-student ratios for that age group.
Martyn said he intends to begin to talk about the school day time shift with parents this month.