As of tomorrow, morning arrival changes will go into effect at the Palmerton Area Junior High/Senior High complex.
The list of changes – being done to ensure the safety and security of its students – is on display on the district's web site, www.palmerton.org. High school Principal Kathy Egan and junior high Principal Thad Kosciolek note these changes:
Ÿ Buses will wait in the front of the high school upon arrival. At 7:11 a.m., Carbon Career & Technical Institute students will be dismissed from their bus to walk to their bus departing for CCTI. All other students will remain on their bus until 7:13 a.m. Students will be dismissed at 7:13 a.m., as the doors to the school will automatically unlock at 7:14 a.m. Senior high students may either remain out on the front pavement of the high school until the 7:30 a.m. bell, or go into the cafeteria until the 7:30 a.m. bell.
Ÿ Junior high students will proceed to the junior high school gym or breakfast area in the junior high school at 7:14 a.m., until the 7:30 a.m. bell.
Superintendent Carol Boyce told the TIMES NEWS the changes are necessary to address three primary issues.
"We are aware that there have been issues regarding the potential of cold weather and keeping kids warm," Boyce said. "We know we need to provide supervision for kids; our morning duties in the high school do not start until 7:15, and sometimes the buses are in significantly earlier than that, and we have walkers and kids parents are dropping them off even before 7."
Boyce said the district has worked well with Leon George, owner of George's Busing of Palmerton and Lehighton.
"Therefore, the buses will be coming just a little bit later in the morning, and our kids will be held on the buses until a minute or so before the doors actually open," she said. "The kids will still have plenty of time if they want to go into the cafeteria to get breakfast."
Boyce is hopeful the changes will address all the issues.
"If parents are still dropping kids off early, or if kids are walking to get there early, they will not be permitted into the building," she said. "Parents will need to drop them off closer to the time when they're able to get into the building, so families need to make their own choices regarding those; we are not providing the supervision and access to the building until 7:15."
The changes are only relegated to the secondary level, which also includes CCTI students.
"Elementary is on a different schedule; we do not have the same issues at elementary as we do with secondary," she said. "Someone was concerned with youngsters transferring to the vocational bus, we have made provisions for that, and those youngsters will be permitted off the bus at 7:11 so that they can transfer."
Boyce said she expects the change to go well.
"It should be a very smooth transition," she said. "We had three issues; safety, supervision, health and warmth, and we're hoping that a slight change of things will help address each of those issues."