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January 17, 2014

Parents blast schedule changes

NEWBURYPORT — Outraged parents are blasting school officials, saying they failed to discuss changes to the public schools’ arrival and dismissal times next year, or to even let parents know a plan was in the works, after Superintendent Susan Viccaro sent a notice to parents on Monday alerting them to the new schedule.

In her letter, Viccaro wrote that school administrators, the mayor and Salter Bus Company considered numerous factors in preparing the new schedules. The new Bresnahan school is under construction and is set to open in the fall. The Nock-Molin is also being renovated.

Beginning next year, the bus arrival and departure times for Bresnahan full-day preschool students is 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Full-day kindergarten to grade 3 students will arrive at 8:45 a.m. and depart at 3:15 p.m. At the Molin Upper Elementary, the day will run from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and at the Nock, students will arrive at 7:20 a.m. and depart at 1:50 p.m. The Newburyport High school day will stay from 7:30 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

In her notice, Viccaro said the scheduled times for Bresnahan “will allow for ease in drop-off and pick-up congestion” while changes in time at the other schools “is to allow 35 to 45 minutes (a state requirement) between bus runs to ensure timely pickup between groups of students.”

Viccaro said planning is in place for before- and after-school programs at Bresnahan to compensate for the discrepancy in next year’s schedule. But that choice isn’t sitting well with parents who are angry that the schedule was released without any input from them or forewarning, and frustrated that they now are being “forced to adjust” to the changes.

The new schedule makes it especially difficult for parents with more than one child in the school system, and for working parents who will be further burdened and inconvenienced, they say.

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