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Some Not Happy With Proposal For Longer Elementary School Day

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 11/20/2013, 3:30pm  ET

MCPS Superintendent Joshua StarrIncluded in MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr’s proposal to move back high school start times is a proposal to extend the elementary school day by 30 minutes.

It’s not sitting well with a few county parents.

A parent of an elementary school student Silver Spring has started a petition against extending the final bell for any level of school past 3:30 p.m. There is a second similar petition that agrees with moving high school start times back, but in a way that would not extend the elementary school day.

Starr’s proposal would maintain current elementary school start times (8:50 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.) but extend the school day by 30 minutes so school ends at 3:35 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The change would make the elementary school day six hours and 45 minutes, the same length as middle and high schools.

Starr said the extra 30 minutes for elementary school would come out to an extra 14 days of instruction. A full-cost analysis and public input is expected by spring of 2014. MCPS is going through a series of public meetings about the proposals in the Bell Times plan.

Starr has said the later high school start time and 10-minute earlier middle school start time is unconnected to the elementary school proposal in terms of transportation and other logistics.

The petition from Flora Singer Elementary School parent Lisa Rigazio says the elementary school proposal puts parents who support later high school start times “in a very difficult situation.”

Our kids will be going to high school very soon so want what is best for them then, but not at the expense of their many years in ES now.

I have started a petition asking the superintendent and the board to support a Bell Times proposal that DOES NOT END ANY SCHOOL LATER THAN3:30PM. This does NOT address directly adding 30 minutes to the ES day in general. It simply opposes adding them to the END of the already late day for elementary schools.

I urge you to read the petition for details and to bring this concern of ES parents to your PTA’s. I am glad that MCPS is taking this year to fully research the impact of the current proposal on our entire community. And I am hopeful that open and frank discussions of both the great benefits and challenges of the Superintendent’s proposal will bring about a greater solution. One that will serve ALL of our students every step of their way through our wonderful school system.

The second petition, from Michael Lee, also expresses support for later high school start times, but claims a later end to the elementary school day will limit extracurricular activities:

However, pushing the end of the day for elementary school students later by a half hour, especially for those enrolled in tier two schools, significantly limits opportunities for these students to engage in extracurricular activities and also makes it more difficult to complete the increasing volume of homework assignments, especially given their generally earlier bedtimes compared to high school students.