With less time this year to bus children each morning, transportation officials in the Bend-La Pine Schools found a solution in their youngest riders: Elementary school students will be dropped off earlier than ever, 30 minutes before classes start.

Starting next week, middle and high schools will start class an hour later than in the past, at 8:45 a.m., while elementary schools will start an hour earlier, at 8 a.m.

In previous years, that meant bus drivers had an hour and 15 minutes between the start of each school day to pick up students.

This year, there’s only 45 minutes between the start times.

Kim Crabtree, Bend-La Pine’s transportation director, said dropping off elementary school students at 7:30 a.m. was necessary, so buses wouldn’t be late picking up middle and high school students. To accommodate the young kids arriving a half-hour early, elementary schools will be staffed earlier and students can eat breakfast or play games before class, she said.

Crabtree added that this isn’t a major change for drivers or schools, as in the past, they dropped students off 15-20 minutes early so they could eat breakfast.

Gary Timms, Bend-La Pine’s director of elementary programs, said the district’s elementary schools already had staff supervising students 30 minutes before classes began, in case parents had to drop off their kids early. He said the shift won’t have much impact on staff.

“It’s really not a change from what we did in the past,” Timms said.

Elementary schools will continue to provide supervised playground time, or indoor activities if the weather is nasty, along with breakfast, Timms said.

High school and middle school students will be dropped off 15 minutes before classes start, at 8:30 a.m., Crabtree said.

Bus routes and stops will change this year, but the school district shifts routes and stops every year as students move in and out of attendance areas, Crabtree said. The opening of North Star Elementary in north-central Bend will also cause major changes to bus routes, she said.

Families interested in what their kids’ bus route is for the 2019-20 school year can visit the Bend-La Pine website or download the My Bus Stop app.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com