About a hundred of Ottawa's English elementary and high schools could change the time classes start and finish to help save money on bussing.

Out of 164 schools in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Ottawa Catholic School Board covered under the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA), more than 60 per cent (102 schools) could see their hours change anywhere from five to 60 minutes in September 2015.

The OSTA said they have a mandate from the province to find efficiencies while overseeing transportation for those boards, so they came up with a plan to have schools in the same area match hours.

The OSTA said it could save more than $3 million out of its $60 million budget.

"One bus can then service three schools, three different runs instead of just doing single runs. That saves a lot of money in the long run," said Vicky Kyriaco, general manager of the OSTA.

Job, safety concerns

Parents from schools who could be facing a later start time said they could face a difficult adjustment.

Denene Clifford has a son at Rockcliffe Park Public School, which currently starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. — but faces a change to 45 minutes later.

"We don't have a before-school program in this school, so for a lot of parents we've acclimatized our work to getting there after a dropoff (at) 8:30 (a.m.)," she said.

"For a lot of us 9:15 (a.m.) is a little late." 

Clifford said at the end of the day, she can see more people putting their children in an after-school program because a 3:45 p.m. finish time could make traffic an issue.

Library technician Helene Duquette said it may also cause student safety issues if parents couldn't bring their children to school.

"If the kids have to come by themselves into school, there might be little things about security there or they would have to ... (get) neighbours together to send kids at the same time," she said.

Public consultations key to shaping plans, says OSTA

Kyriaco said they recognize change is difficult, but many schools have made time changes work and they're hopeful they can learn lessons from them.

"We wouldn't characterize it as a massive upheaval, most of the schools would be changing between five to 15 minutes," she said.

"Sometimes that extra 15 minutes to a 9:15 (a.m.) start can be a little bit difficult for families to work around and we really want to hear from them about that."

Kyriaco also said many schools under the two boards they work with have before- or after-school programs in place, which could help with the proposed changes.

Public consultations on the proposal will start in April.

"The type of feedback we're really looking for is really (the) specifics, we're looking for solutions to the issues that are going to come up," she said.

By the numbers

  • 164: Number of schools covered by the OSTA proposal.
  • 62: Number of schools that would see no change to their hours.
  • 102: Number of schools that would see some change to their hours.
  • 73: Number of schools that would see a change of five to 15 minutes.
  • 22: Number of schools that would see a change of 20-30 minutes.
  • 7: Number of schools that would see a change of more than 30 minutes.
  • 29: Number of schools which would start and end earlier.
  • 73: Number of schools which would start and end later.
  • 60: Number of minutes the most-affected school, Kars on the Rideau Public School, would change (8:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. start).

Source: OSTA

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