Schools work to alleviate school bus, sporting conflicts

Changes are in the works to improve the school bus schedule, which has forced high school football games to end close to midnight.

Since our story aired Wednesday, KHON2 has learned the state Department of Education is looking to add more school buses.

It’s not clear how soon changes can be made, but the way things are right now, school officials say any talk of making improvements is welcome.

Friday night lights are burning longer during prep football games this year.

That’s because school buses first have to get the students home from school before they can pick up the teams and take them to their games. So kick-off for the JV game has moved from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and the varsity game begins shortly after that, meaning those second games end closer to midnight instead of 10 p.m.

The situation has different schools looking to make changes.

“There was some chatter going across our emails saying that there are options that we’re looking at to help alleviate some of the situations that are popping up,” said McKinley High School principal Ron Okamura.

One option includes adding more buses so teams can get picked up earlier and games can then start earlier.

The DOE school bus contract for Oahu was cut from $33.4 million last year to $28 million this year, so there are 33 fewer buses provided by Roberts Hawaii and Ground Transportation.

When KHON2 asked about adding more buses, DOE spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz said in a statement, “As we learn more, we will continue to seek options. However it is imperative the schools help in the decision-making.”

“Obviously having more buses, if it can go back to last year when there was a lot of buses, games can just start earlier,” said McKinley High School athletic director Bob Morikuni.

That solution might not come until next semester or even next year, but McKinley High School officials say that’s still a big improvement.

Bowling teams are also forced to miss a class because they have to be picked up earlier. Some field trips were also cut short.

“Any kind of options that are open to kind of alleviate the shortages that we do have to get us back into some sort of normalcy would be really appreciated,” Okamura said.

Another option being considered is to move the JV games to Saturday afternoons, so there will only be one game on Friday nights.

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