WINTHROP — It might be earlier to bed for Winthrop students, because it will definitely be earlier to rise if they want to catch the bus.

The district has announced it will start classes at the high school and the middle school 10 minutes earlier, and dismissal will be 10 minutes earlier, in order to facilitate school breakfasts.

As a result, buses — even those that pick up Winthrop Grade School students — will arrive at stops 10 minutes earlier.

The changes, which take effect Tuesday, are to ensure that Winthrop Grade School students are picked up on time and able to eat breakfast at school, according to a notice sent out by Superintendent Gary Rosenthal.

The new start and dismissal times are:

* 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Winthrop High School, which has an enrollment of 229 students.

* 7:40 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. at Winthrop Middle School, which has an enrollment of 214 students.

Marilyn Hutchinson, who drives her grandddaughter Danielle to high school each day, said the earlier start time might benefit working parents who find it difficult to get to work on time.

“I think people that work will find it a lot easier,” she sad. “A lot of them work in Augusta, and after they drop off the kids, they’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic.”

There will be no change in the grade school schedule, where classes start at 8:40 a.m. and end at 3:10 a.m. That school has 426 children.

Winthrop Grade School Principal Jeff Ladd said altering the bus schedules will benefit younger students.

“One bus arrives on time right now,” he said. “This 10 minutes will allow all the buses to get the children there on time.”

That prompt arrival will give the children an opportunity to eat breakfast, which is provided at no charge to parents, Ladd said.

“Our schedule will remain the same,” Ladd said. “We’ll just be able to follow it, which my teachers will appreciate. We haven’t been able to do it yet this year.”

Terri Williams’ daughter rides the bus to first grade and likes to eat breakfast at school.

“It’s a little bit of an adjustment,” Williams said. “Starting school later (this year) was a bigger adjustment.”

Up until this year, the Winthrop School Department operated its own buses. In June, the school board voted to outsource transportation, and a two-year contract was awarded to Northeast Charter School Bus Services of Lewiston, which is leasing Winthrop’s buses.

The board also voted to change to double bus runs rather than a single, townwide run serving all three schools.

“When we planned the move to a two-run service, we optimistically planned 45 minutes between the two runs,” Ladd said. The turnaround time, however, proved too short.

“Last year, we ran seven buses,” Ladd said. “Based on projected enrollment, we would have needed eight this year because the seven were running way too closes to maximum capacity. Instead of increasing the buses to eight, we down-sized the fleet to six.”

John Mitchell, chairman of the Winthrop Board of Education, said Friday the school board been dealing with the bus schedules at the last board meeting.

“We were trying to shorten each one of runs and minimize the stops to make the schedules work,” Mitchell said.

He also said a couple of parents had concerns about shifts in schedules and the superintendent had been working with them on individual basis.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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