A difficult decision

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local school boards are often faced with decisions that must take into account the delicate balance between what they can afford and what is best for their students. The current debate in Southampton County regarding a possible two-tiered busing schedule is a perfect example. The county’s school system finds itself in the unenviable position of having a bus driver shortage in a county that covers 600 square miles, without the available resources to pay higher wages to attract more drivers. Without spending money it doesn’t have, the school board is left with few options.

The current proposal would see drivers doubling up on elementary and secondary school routes, meaning that some students would have to be picked up earlier and some later. A number of studies have shown that for already sleep-deprived teenagers, leaving for school even earlier is not ideal. Younger students may get to sleep in later, but a later pickup time will wreak havoc on their parents’ work schedules.

So what to do?

We don’t have the answer. But the school board deserves credit for being incredibly deliberate in the process, having held no fewer than three public hearings and postponing yet another vote on Monday night to allow time for more input and discussion. While it may upset many students and parents, the two-tiered system may be the only remedy at the board’s disposal. We don’t envy their position.