Spring starting times to remain same in city

20 buses a day committed to handle athletic trips

High Schools

March 12, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Most Baltimore City spring sports will continue to start at 3:45 or 4 p.m. thanks to a commitment by the city's bus contractors to handle the demand for transporting athletes to games.

Vanessa C. Pyatt, a spokeswoman for the city schools, said bus contractors, in a meeting last week with city schools officials, committed 20 buses per day, which should "comfortably" handle athletics trips.

During the winter season, the city often did not have enough buses to transport all of the city's athletes to their games, and 64 regular-season basketball games had to be postponed. Some wrestling, swimming and track teams did not get picked up for their meets either.

Athletic directors had expressed concern for the spring, because there are eight sports, up from five during the winter season. Last spring, they said, some buses didn't show up and many others were late.

City officials had considered starting all games at 4:30 p.m., but athletic directors, including Forest Park's Obie Barnes, said that was too late, because some games couldn't be completed by dark and because he didn't want the athletes walking home in the dark.

Now, only badminton and tennis have been delayed until 4:30 p.m. to help ease the demand for buses.

"That'll work," said Poly athletic director Mark Schlenoff, "because badminton and tennis don't take that long."

In addition to the commitment of 20 buses per day for athletics, Pyatt said, the city would provide vans to transport some smaller teams. The vans also could be used in an emergency to transport other teams, she said.

Some athletic directors also have called for a change in dismissal times, which Pyatt said will be reviewed by city officials in July.

Barnes and Schlenoff pointed to a switch in dismissal times between the high schools and the middle and elementary schools in the fall of 2002 as directly contributing to the bus dilemma that has hampered athletics ever since.

That's when high school students began getting out of school between 3:05 and 3:40 p.m. Most teams need to be dropped off by 3:15 for their games, which put them in direct conflict with the 2:30 dismissal times for the younger students.

Pyatt said any decision about switching the dismissal times back would be made this summer and would not go into effect until fall.

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