Simple Process Innovation – School Bus Style

Simple Process Innovation - School Bus StyleI was speaking with a friend recently about school, and the topic of tired teenagers came up. He said he mentioned to a member of the school board that they should start high school later so that the teenagers could sleep in. The school board member replied sorry, we can’t do that because we need the school buses to bring the elementary school kids to school at that time. Apparently this is how it works now in most places around the United States:

  1. School buses go and pick up the high school kids and bring them to school
  2. School buses go and pick up the middle school kids and bring them to school
  3. School buses go and pick up the elementary school kids and bring them to school

Which got both of thinking. Why not change this around to fit the children’s natural rhythms? After all, a lot of parents put their younger children to bed early, which means they wake up early anyways, and teenagers tend to naturally go to bed late and as a result of having to get up early to get to school, end up tired all of the time (making it harder to learn). So, why not flip the school run order around using the same school bus resources?

  1. School buses go and pick up the elementary school kids and bring them to school
  2. School buses go and pick up the middle school kids and bring them to school
  3. School buses go and pick up the high school kids and bring them to school

Elementary schools could swap out their before school and after school care for longer after school care, the high school kids could start and finish later, and all of the kids would be in school during times when they have better natural energy.

Maybe I’m oversimplifying things, or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but as far as I can tell it would be worth trying this simple fix.

About Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B inbound marketing strategies that attract and engage customers, partners, and employees. He is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies on how to increase their revenue and cut their costs since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School.
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One Response to Simple Process Innovation – School Bus Style

  1. Greg Verdino says:

    Sounds simple enough and if I were in high school right now, I’d be giving you a high five. That said, I believe the logic is two-fold: First, in many parts of the country it is still dark out when the HS kids head out to the bus and you probably don’t want little kids heading to the bus in the dark (although now it’s not so common for small kids to wait alone, as it was when I was in elementary).

    Second, the older the kids the more likely they’ll have a fuller docket of after school activities and, once they’re HS juniors and seniors, perhaps after school jobs – so the earlier start allows time after school to accommodate all of these activities. Not sure what happens elsewhere, but in my district the elementary schools don’t have any extracurricular activities outside normal school hours (non-school activities are another story, obviously) and the intermediate school clubs all meet *before* school (so trust me, the 9 year olds are tired too).

    Granted, I’m sure we can come up with some other simple process improvements to address those challenges (well, maybe not sunrise) too.

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