The Toronto District School Board says it will be staggering start and end times at more than 100 elementary schools across the city in an effort to save money.

The TDSB has confirmed that starting in September, start and end times at 131 of the board’s 473 elementary schools will be staggered to reduce the number of buses needed for transporting students.

The school board said the move is expected to save approximately $2.5 million by allowing officials to plan bus routes more efficiently.

The TDSB says it currently spends more on student transportation than what it receives from the government.

School bus

“This decision was made in June 2019 as part of last year’s budget process,” the board said in a notice on its website.

“TDSB Trustees approved an operating budget plan for the 2019-20 school year that required $67.8 million in staff reductions and changes to programs/services to address provincial government funding reductions and the TDSB’s annual structural deficit.”

Some of the operating budget cuts include slashing funding from learning centres, outdoor education, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and other programs.

The TDSB also said the budget cuts would mean fewer student support service staff and psychologists would be hired.

In a letter sent to parents and guardians at Cornell Junior Public School, where classes will start at 9:15 a.m. starting next fall, the TDSB acknowledge that the move could disrupt routines.

“While we understand that these changes may impact some families more than others, we are hopeful that everyone will understand that changing school start and end times will help prevent further cuts to programs and supports for students,” the school board said.

“If we did not reduce transportation costs by staggering school start and end times, we would have to reduce other services and supports to students that would have more direct and negative impact on classroom teaching."

The changes, the TDSB continued, will also reduce the board’s carbon footprint and help address the “ongoing school bus driver shortage." 

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said that by staggering schedules, the board will be able to take 55 buses off of the road.

"With 55 less buses, you need less bus drivers," he said. 

Bird could not confirm if any bus drivers will lose their jobs.

"That would really have to come from our third-party operators, the bus carriers themselves, but I don’t anticipate that that should be an issue just given the fact that there is an ongoing bus driver shortage," he noted. 

Information meetings about the changes will be held both in-person and online next month.