Montgomery County won't change school start times after all, the school district announced Tuesday. The cost was too high and the opposition too strong, particularly among elementary school families.
Superintendent Joshua Starr previously proposed a change in school start times, moving high school start times back 50 minutes, middle school back 10 minutes and elementary school back 30 minutes.
The goal was to give young people more time to sleep, and it followed a 10-month study by a special Bell Times Working Group.
However, change could still come to the county -- and the rest of the state. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has called for a review of school start times statewide.
Later start times are being considered by other school districts as well; high schools in Manassas, Virginia, will start 50 minutes later next year.
But the changes in Montgomery County had a cost, as bus and other schedules had to move. The plan would have cost at least $21.6 million, Starr said in a statement Tuesday.
"Student enrollment in MCPS is growing by approximately 2,500 students a year, and more children are coming to our schools requiring additional supports and services to ensure success," Starr said. "Additional resources are needed each year only to provide the same services to a growing number of students ... there is a very limited amount of money available to us each year to fund new initiatives."
And elementary school families were not in favor of changing schedules, which would also have extended the elementary school day by 30 minutes, Starr said.
Some expressed concern about pushing after school activities like sports practices too late.
The campaign for later start times isn't over, according to Mandi Mader, a mother of two students and therapist who began a petition drive 18 months ago, collecting more than 11,700 signatures to start school later.
"We're going to continue to fight," she said. "We are going to the School Board meeting June 17. We are going to hold bake sales for buses. This is just too big an issue not to advocate."
Read Montgomery County Schools' new report on bell times here: