Montgomery Co. schools seek input on changes to school start times

A large crowd including students, parents and teachers turned out for Monday\'s last public hearing about proposed bell time changes in Montgomery County Public Schools. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Why students want later start times

Michelle Basch | November 15, 2014 12:33 am

WASHINGTON — Proposed changes to public school start and end times are getting a lot of attention in Montgomery County, and there’s still time to share your opinion.

To help teenagers get more sleep, the plan is to push the start of the high school day back 50 minutes, from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.

On Monday night, at the final public hearing on the plan at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, there was plenty of support for the change.

“I have a son who’s at BCC High School. I drive him to school, because he then gets a little more sleep. Because if I don’t drive him to school, he’s zombified,” said one woman who got up to speak.

The school district also wants to start middle school classes 10 minutes earlier, and extend the elementary school day by 30 minutes.

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Comments made by people attending the public hearing were written down on large pads. Written comments were also compiled at each table. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Under the plan, some elementary school kids won’t get out of school until 4 p.m., and quite a few parents spoke out against that, including a working mom with a young daughter.

“I need time with her. We, as a family, need time,” she said.

More than 600 people attended four public hearings, and the school system has received hundreds of emails about the proposed changes.

The school system will continue to accept email comments at least through the end of March.

The department hopes to have a final decision made sometime this spring. The soonest bell times would change would be during the 2015-2016 school year.

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