Some Prince George’s County schools will change their start times next year

The time school starts can vary wildly for students across Prince George’s County, Maryland.

A few blocks could be the difference between school starting up to an hour later.

But that will all change next year.

Prince George’s County Public Schools announced on Thursday new start times for the next school year — consolidating 13 different start times across the school system to just three.

School dismissal times are changing, too.

A total of 17 different dismissal times will be reduced to six.

“Streamlining bell times is one of five strategies being implemented as phase one of transportation improvements,” the county said.

Chief Operating Officer Charoscar Coleman said PGCPS is changing the majority of bell times by 15 minutes or less and that small change could greatly benefit the school system’s transportation systems.

The school system released some numbers to break down how school schedules are changing.

  • 22% of schools (41 schools) have no change in bell times
  • 62% (118 schools) have a bell time shift of 15 minutes or less
  • 8.5% of schools (16 schools) have a bell time shift of 16 to 30 minutes
  • 8% of schools (15 schools) have a bell time shift of 31 to 45 minutes

“Transportation has long been a pressing issue for our community, and we are taking steps toward a long-term solution,” said Superintendent Millard House II. “Our goal is to ensure that every child arrives at school on time and ready to learn — and we believe these strategies will lead to an improvement in the quality of our school bus service moving forward.”

As the eighth highest ridership in the nation, the reliability of transportation for the county’s 85,000 school bus riders was an immediate concern outlined by the superintendent following an audit.

Other plans to improve the school system’s transportation are to adjust bus stop locations and implement an “opt-out option” for families who don’t need a bus to get to school.

Community information sessions in each of the school system’s nine Board of Education districts are currently underway as an opportunity for parents and community members to learn more about transportation improvements, ask questions and provide feedback.

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