Parents, Students Speak Out on Proposed Changes to School Start Times

By Erika Gonzalez
|  Monday, Oct 28, 2013  |  Updated 11:51 PM EDT
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Montgomery County Schools are considering changing school start times to give high schoolers more sleep and elementary students more time in class. Parents began to express their opinions on the changes Monday night. News4's Erika Gonzalez reports.

Erika Gonzalez

Montgomery County Schools are considering changing school start times to give high schoolers more sleep and elementary students more time in class. Parents began to express their opinions on the changes Monday night. News4's Erika Gonzalez reports.

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Parents and students in Montgomery County are starting to voice their opinions on proposed new school start times, which would have high schoolers starting school almost an hour later than they do now.

Tonight was the first of a series of community hearings on the proposed new start times. They are designed to allow high school students more sleep, following studies that showed teenagers particularly need it.

But that change would lead to a series of other changes as well. Superintendent Joshua Starr is recommending that high schools start 50 minutes later, at 8:15 a.m. instead of 7:25 a.m. Middle schools would start 10 minutes earlier, at 7:45 a.m. instead of 7:55 a.m.

Elementary schools would extend their school day by 30 minutes. "It's been a point of concern about our day being too short, and not really giving enough time to our elementary students," said John Matthews, a representative of the school district's bell times working group.

A decision by Starr and a vote by the county School Board could be made in the spring, but the changes would not be implemented until September 2015 at the earliest.

Monday night, Montgomery County families came to Paint Branch High School to a public hearing to speak out on the new bell times. There was a mixed reaction.

"You could get up earlier and study if you had a test that day," said student Jake Paholski, "but I don't really want to end later."

Parents wondered how the change would affect sports practices. "Right now their practices are from 4 to 6:30," said parent Vivian Kassman. "So I don't know how, if this went into effect, how that would change the practice times."

Meanwhile, the union that represents Montgomery County teachers said they still had questions about the proposal.

"The biggest concern really, at the elementary schools, is the use of time," said Doug Prouty of the Montgomery County Education Association. "In high school it's just whether or not this change is actually going to make a difference for kids."

If you'd like to voice your opinions on the change, but can't get to one of the three upcoming community hearings, email belltimes@mcpsmd.org.

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