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Montgomery County superintendent: Changing school bell times not feasible

Wednesday - 6/11/2014, 8:03am  ET

Parents aren't pleased

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports

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"We don't have that kind of money."

Superintendent Joshua Starr discusses why the bell times are not changing.

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WASHINGTON -- After recommending Montgomery County Public Schools consider changing school bell times, the superintendent now says implementation isn't feasible.

Superintendent Joshua Starr came to his conclusion after seeing how much the change would cost and reviewing mixed community feedback.

The costs to change the times would come in at around $21.6 million a year, Starr says. That cost factors in added staff, transportation and utility costs and more buses.

"I recommended we study changing bell times because I believe it is an important issue that deserves our attention," Starr said in a news release.

"But after receiving the final cost estimates, along with mixed feedback from our community, I do not believe it is feasible or responsible to move forward with these changes at this time. However, we will continue to discuss and monitor this issue."

Initially, the idea was to move high school start times 50 minutes later, middle school times 10 minutes earlier and adding 30 minutes to elementary school days.

"If we want to do this right, it's going to cost more than we can afford right now," says Starr, who adds that it will take $135 million next year to maintain the current services.

Starr said while money was one of the reasons for the decisions, mixed feelings from the community was another.

Input from the community varied. While 78 percent of parents favored the changes, feedback was more divided in other areas. High school students and staff, for example, were split almost in half on the idea of bell time changes.

Starr says the high school students who were against the bell changes cited worries about work and sports schedules as well as other responsibilities such as watching siblings.

Most elementary school students and staff were opposed.

"It's not like there's only one perspective on this," Starr says.

Read the full report on the Montgomery County schools' website.

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