Many decisions must still be made before fifth-graders move to Robert Smalls Middle School next year, but one thing has been decided -- the older students and younger students must be on separate buses.
Parents have made it clear they want fifth-graders to have little to no interaction with older students, said Phyllis White, Beaufort County School District chief operational services officer.
"We know what we're not going to do, and that's to put fifth-graders with the older students because we know the parents do not want that," White said.
Two options for bus transportation are being considered, she said:
A team of district staff -- including transportation specialists, data specialists, employees in the student services department, principals from Robert Smalls and each of the elementary schools involved in the shift -- has been meeting regularly to discuss how to move the fifth-graders.
White said other transportation options might also surface.
The staff seems to favor busing fifth-graders to the elementary schools and then to Robert Smalls, similar to the way it's done at Lady's Island Middle School, where bell times are staggered to accommodate the bus schedule, she said.
The options have changed slightly from those presented to parents in August. District staff proposed three options then: that fifth-graders ride to their elementary schools and then be transported to Robert Smalls, ride with sixth- through eighth-graders directly to Robert Smalls, or fifth-graders would ride separate routes directly to Robert Smalls.
White said in August that creating separate routes might mean using an extra bus, which would cost about $30,000.
But the options currently on the table shouldn't cost extra, she said Friday.
White said she expects a transportation plan to be chosen within two months, before meetings scheduled in February with parents and fifth-graders at Robert Smalls.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.