New bus times for students this fall, biggest change for Iroquois PS

SOUTH DUNDAS – Elementary school students who were on early busing in South Dundas, will begin the 2020-21 school year attending classes an hour later each day.

Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario, which provides bus transportation for the two English language school boards in the region, released the schedule late last week.

The biggest change in South Dundas will be Iroquois Public School students. Until now, those students shared bus transportation with neighbouring Seaway District High School, and began class at 8 a.m.

In September, IPS students will begin class at 9:20 a.m., and their school day will end at 3:40 p.m.

Morrisburg Public School students will also begin the school day at 9:20 a.m., and end the day at 3:40 p.m. St. Mary-St. Cecilia Catholic School students will start class at 9:30 a.m and end at 3:50 p.m.

Early in the process it was unclear if schools close to each other from different board would share bus transportation. For example, MPS and SMSC are less than a kilometre apart and the bell times are offset by 10 minutes.

In February, STEO General Manager and CEO Janet Murray said that it was possible that the two schools would share buses. The Leader contacted STEO for comment now that the schedules are released.

“At this time, MPS and SMSC are not anticipated to ride together in September 2020, but they may do so in subsequent years, as routing stabilizes over time,” Murray said.

Class times at Seaway DHS remain unchanged, with classes beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 2:10 p.m.

The move to change bell times at Upper Canada District School Board and Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario schools was prompted by changes to secondary school timetables, and attempting to find operational efficiencies.

The UCDSB adopted a plan in 2018 to move all secondary schools in that board to the same five period timetable with harmonized bell times. This is to help the board facilitate video conferencing and e-learning between multiple schools.

Both the UCDSB and CDSBEO have been hit with skyrocketing transportation costs due to an arbitration ruling against its transportation consortium (STEO) by bus operators. The two boards own STEO.

The changes this fall are the second phase of a three-phase plan by STEO to adjust to harmonized bell times for all schools in the UCDSB and CDSBEO.

For the 2019-20 school year, Lanark and northern Leeds county schools saw phase one of the plan implemented. Schools from Gananoque to South Dundas, Kemptville to North Dundas, and up to Vankleek Hill will change in 2020-21. Schools in Stormont, Glengarry, and the City of Cornwall will be the last to change, and are set to do so in the 2021-22 school year.

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