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Teen designs new bus schedule for Okaloosa County schools

Teen designs new bus schedule for Okaloosa County schools

The push for high schools to start later in Okaloosa County has a new voice. A recent grad of Niceville High School designed a new bus schedule, and presented his ideas to the school board.

High school starts at 7am in Okaloosa County. Kendall Mullenhour never felt sharp in class. The soft-spoken 18-year-old put it simply: "I was pretty tired."

Kendall heard about a group called "Start School Later", and started learning the arguments for later start times. They include better academinc performance, and better physical and mental health.

He also learned that bus schedules are an obstacle. The future civil engineering major decided to break out the spreadsheets and see what he could do. Kendall Mullenhour "Getting the whole bus schedule into a working model I could edit, and Google Maps, see some of the longest bus routes and see if I could shorten them up a bit"

Kendall brought the school board a proposal to basically reverse the current bus usage, picking up elementary kids earliest and high school students latest. Dr. Lynn Keefe, who's been driving the "start school later" movement for years, asked the board to do it now. In the meeting, she said, "So don't reject the data, and don't compromise our student's health and their future."

They declined, saying Kendall's proposal was modeled on a much smaller district with a much larger transportation budget. But the effort is a lesson Kendall leaves behind for other students. He said, "It doesn't have to be this way, you can go up to them and say that we want change."

The Okaloosa County School Board has already purchased new bus routing software, and formed a committee to investigate later start times. The committee will begin work in the fall.

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