Teachers union suggests multiple new school start time plans

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The Montgomery County Teachers Union has released three alternatives to Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) schedules, one of which they plan to formally propose to the county’s Board of Education later this fall.
These proposed changes come in response to complaints regarding the negative consequences of last year’s 20-minute school start time shift. The decision to implement the 20-minute delay was motivated primarily by those concerned with high schoolers’ lack of sleep. While the schedule change might have achieved this goal, it has also appeared to have caused unintended collateral damage for elementary schoolers. Even though elementary school students are beginning school only 10 minutes later than before, this small change has caused great consequences. With school starting during rush hour, around 9:15, for elementary schools, 10 minutes can make a huge difference when it comes to time spent in traffic.
There have also been complaints that having elementary school start later in the day is not conducive to a productive learning environment, as young children are more active and attentive earlier in the morning. In fact, according to Lauren Ashley Villa, a member of the Montgomery County Education Association’s school assistance team, elementary schools have seen an increase in disciplinary actions taken and in-school illnesses reported since the school start time has been pushed back. “We know from a science perspective that elementary kids cannot handle the current schedule,” Villa said to Bethesda Magazine.
The union’s new plans propose that elementary schools begin earlier in the morning, while high schools and middle schools begin later in the morning. While these plans have their perks, changing the school schedules would cost the county millions of dollars. The most expensive of the teachers union’s proposed plans would require $3.9 million and mandates that elementary school starts at either 7:45 a.m. or 8:15 a.m., high school starts at 8:50 a.m., and middle school starts at 9:30 a.m.. Both of the other two plans would cost MCPS only $1.3 million. The second plan suggests middle school starts at 7:25 a.m., high school starts at 7:55 a.m. and elementary school starts at either 8:45 a.m. or 9:10 a.m.. The third plan suggests that elementary school starts at either 7:35 a.m. or 8:00 a.m., high school starts at 8:35 a.m. and middle school starts at 9:05 a.m..
The union plans on debating the costs and benefits of each and possibly revising these plans in the upcoming weeks. The union will then vote on which plan, if any, to formally propose to the MCPS Board of Education. The Board of Education has announced they will be open to suggestions and plan to consider any proposal submitted, however they are doubtful that any one plan will be the perfect solution. “I don’t think there’s a one size that fits call that’s going to placate everybody because there are a lot of competing interests,” Board of Education president Michael Durso said to Bethesda Magazine.
Students are in favor of a potential schedule change that would force the school day to start later in the morning. “I think the schedule change should happen because it would give me more time to sleep,” sophomore Aliza Reinstein said.

 

Sarah Greenberg

Senior News Editor