GREENVILLE CO., S.C. (WSPA) — For Southside High School junior Tennyson Bolden, fifteen minutes makes a huge difference.
Before his alma mater became a pilot school for Greenville County Schools’ early start time program, he was one of an estimated 2,000 county high school students who were late to school daily due to school bus routes.
Bolden told 7 News that last year, buses so consistently ran late to pick him up he would wonder if he’d missed the bus in the first place.
“You know the situation where you call your parents and tell them, ‘I missed the bus. What am I going to do?’” he said. “It used to be a real big struggle.”
He and other students would walk into class late, missing opportunities to learn through no fault of their own.
A difference came this year for Bolden and other Southside High students who rely on school buses to get to and from school.
“Last year, our buses would come in late and our students would struggle with getting into breakfast on time and getting into classes on time,” said Chris Emerson, assistant principal of Southside High School.
Now, the school buses — which all pick up and drop off elementary school students before picking up the high schoolers — drop off the elementary school students 15 minutes earlier.
“[Now] our students are getting here on time,” Emerson said. “We’ve noticed their grades are improving. They’re able to get in, get breakfast and start the day better, which is what we want for them.”
According to the school district, the rate of late buses dropped from 47% last year to 10% this year with the implementation of the early start program.
The district could vote in March to extend the protocol to all schools in the county as early as next school year.
Greenville Co. Schools has more information on the program, including a possible implementation timeline, on its website.