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Late buses prompt school schedule shift
Roanoke’s school board voted unanimously Tuesday to change the district’s start and dismissal times next year because of ongoing problems with reliable bus services.
“By altering the school start and dismissal times by just 15 minutes, this will allow bus transportation to be more consistent and reliable, increasing the number of buses and drivers available for each run and allow extra drivers to be available for sports and other activities,” the school district said in an FAQ online.
Since the pandemic, Durham School Services, the district’s contracted transportation provider, has struggled with finding enough drivers to cover routes.
Currently, elementary schools start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. High school, middle school and other programs start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.
Under the new schedule for the 2023-2024 year, seven elementary schools will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m.; 10 elementary schools start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m.; high schools and other programs start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m.; and middle schools start at 9 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.
“We will have more drivers than routes and that is what is positive,” Chris Perkins, the district’s chief operations officer, told board members. “That’s what we need to get to. And there are a thousand of children that were late every day this past year and 500 of those 1,000 are late more than 10 minutes.”
Members of a transportation group — made up of administrators, bus drivers and parents — came up with the schedule proposal in the last month or so. In December, the board rejected a more dramatic schedule change that would have started the following month.
The full list of school schedules and more information can be found at this link.
Suetterlein blows Democrats out of money water
Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, has raised more campaign cash in the last two months than the combined total of three candidates seeking to oppose him after a June 20 Democratic primary.
Suetterlein reported $105,742 in direct donations from April 1 to June 8, with a total of $332,964.49 on hand.
Trish White-Boyd, Luke Priddy and DeAnthony “D.A.” Pierce are running to be the Democratic nominee facing Suetterlein in this fall’s general election.
The newly drawn Senate seat leans Republican and encompasses Roanoke, Salem and parts of Roanoke County and Montgomery County. Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, redistricted into the same seat with Suetterlein, is not running for reelection.
Suetterlein’s top donations included $5,000 each from an HCA Healthcare lobbying group, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association’s Political Action Committee and the Virginia Trial Lawyers PAC.
The latest campaign finance reports are the last published before the June 20 primary.
White-Boyd reported $28,842 in direct donations, and another $17,950 worth of in-kind contributions. Funding included a $2,500 donation from EMILY’s List, a PAC that supports Democratic female candidates who favor abortion rights. White-Boyd reported $3,726 in remaining funds.
Priddy reported $14,250 in direct contributions, which included a $5,000 donation from Edwards’s campaign committee. He reported $4,500 in direct contributions from himself and $1,427 in remaining cash on hand.
Pierce reported $1,174 in direct donations, including $370 from himself. He had $623 on hand.
City to unveil Wilkinson street signs
Roanoke leaders will dedicate a new street sign on Friday after a local civil rights leader.
The ceremony is 11 a.m. in Washington Park, at the corner of 5th Street and the new R.R. Wilkinson Ave. NW (formerly Carver Ave NW).
City Council in March voted to rename the street after Wilkinson, whose activism in the 1960s led the city to cap a landfill in the park, which is in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Sixty years ago this month, Wilkinson convinced the all-white City Council to close the dump after threatening a “Baby Carriage Brigade,” in which mothers would form a human chain to block dump trucks, according to an online biography.
Wilkinson, a pastor at Hill Street Baptist Church for 33 years, served as president of the Roanoke branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), from 1959 to 1968.
In 1960, Wilkinson organized a biracial committee that met secretly with local store owners, a move that helped integrate a dozen downtown lunch counters without violence. Wilkinson died in 1993.
Members of his family and faith leaders will speak at the dedication, according to the city.
Correction (6/17/23) — An earlier version misstated the year Wilkinson threatened a “Baby Carriage Brigade.” It was June, 1963. The story has been updated, and we regret the error.
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