COLUMBIA – Residents will get a chance to ask questions and raise concerns about busing and school start times with members of Columbia Public Schools at a World Cafe next week.
Busing: The district's contract with First Student, which provides buses and drivers, expires after the 2013-14 school year. Next fall, the Columbia School Board will vote on whether to extend the contract for an additional year or to end the contract.
What: Columbia Public Schools is asking for input from community members on two issues: school transportation and school start times.
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 10
Where: Stoney Creek Inn, 2601 S. Providence Road
Admission: Free. RSVP to Molly Delgado at 214-3960 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins also are welcome.
If the board decides not to extend the contract, the district will consider contracting with another or taking over student transportation itself. The district has been contracting with a busing service since the 1970s.
Start times: District schools start at four times within an hour of each other and use a two-tier bus system. At a school board work session on Sept. 20, Superintendent Chris Belcher suggested a three-tier system that would change school start and stop times.
Typically, around 200 to 300 people attend World Cafes, which have addressed issues such as the academic achievement gap, grade realignments in schools and district finances. Spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said the forums have been "extremely informative" and have had an effect on board decisions.
Participants will be put into discussion groups of eight to 10 people. This is to promote as many conversations with as many people as possible, Baumstark said.
Groups will discuss transportation during one part of the forum and school start times in another, Baumstark said.
Although anyone is welcome, district leaders prefer that people RSVP so they know how many group facilitators to have ready. Facilitators will include members of the school board and the district transportation committee.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.