WARRNAMBOOL Primary School pupils will finish school 10 minutes early next term under a trial arrangement to fit in with new bus timetables.
A straw poll of families produced an overwhelming approval for the change which will affect about 600 pupils. It follows a similar initiative by Warrnambool East Primary School in first term.
Lunch break time will be shortened to make up for the earlier final bell at 3.16pm.
Warrnambool Primary School principal Peter Auchettl in a letter to parents on Thursday said it was the largest poll response he could remember in his time at the school.
Of the 83 returned slips, 51 were in favour, 21 against and 11 indicated the proposal would have no effect.
“After considerable deliberation (which went late into the night) it was passed at school council that we trial a change to our school hours for third term,” Mr Auchettl said.
“Council would like to assure working parents for whom this trial may create some inconvenience that the current process, where children waiting at the gate are supervised for 10 minutes after dismissal time before being escorted to the office, will remain.
“An evaluation will be undertaken towards the end of term three to ascertain the long term viability of the change.”
Opponents argued the earlier school bell would hit working parents, affect pupil health and obesity levels by shortening the lunch break and less than 40 pupils needed to catch the early bus.
Supporters of the trial said it would make it easier to pick up children before going to collect older siblings at secondary college and would eliminate the disadvantage now experienced by classes where children had to leave early to catch a bus.
According to Warrnambool Bus Lines manager Sam Lucas several timetables had changed this year as part of a major review by Public Transport Victoria.
He said the first afternoon Warrnambool and Warrnambool East primary school buses were also used for country runs and needed to leave earlier to fit in with pick-ups at the main interchanges at Warrnambool and Brauer colleges.
“It wouldn’t be good value for taxpayers to have separate buses just for those pick-ups,” he said.
“We believe the arrangement is the best option to fit in with the new structure.”