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MERIDIAN Middle school students in the Meridian School District will get to sleep in a little later next school year.

Eric Exline, spokesman for Joint School District #2, says they are changing school schedules in an effort to deal with an ongoing shortage of bus drivers and save the district money. He estimates the district will save around $900,000 a yearin transportation costs under the new school schedule.

This is actually a recommendation we've had from a cost-saving standpoint from the state for several years now, said Exline.

Middle schools will start 30 minutes later for the school year 2014-2015. Classes begin at 8:35 a.m. and students will be released at 3:25 p.m.

Elementary schools will start at 9:10 a.m. and get out five minutes later at 3:55 p.m. We have not been told how the extra five minutes will be used during the school day.

As for high school students, they are expected to start class at 7:45 a.m., 10 minutes earlier that the current school year. Release time will be at 2:42 p.m.

Exline says the changes to the current school belltimes will not affect any other part of the school day.

He says the changes will allow the district to tier bus schedules and eliminate about 30 routes.

It tiers our route so our drivers now could run a high school route, then a middle school route, then an elementary school route, said Exline.

There has been a bus driver shortage in Meridian for most of the school year and now the district is considering whether to contract bus service out.

Parent Karri Jernigan is concerned about the later start to middle school. She says shehas to drop her son off early at school so she canget to work. Now she's worried he'll be waiting even longer for it to open.

Dropping him off so early, it just worries me him sitting outsidebecauseknow nowadays I don't think they should be sitting out there, said Jernigan.

Another parent likes the changes.

The later out time is good too because it'll be closer to when I get home so he won't have to be home alone as long, the woman said.

The adjustments to the school bell times will begin the 2014-2015 school year.

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