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POLL: Should Carroll County Schools Start Later?

Parents petition Congress for schools to begin after 8 a.m.

"Saved by the bell" may be a common refrain among students, but parents and teachers are starting to ask if children should instead be saved from the bell.

The Start School Later Initiative, a petition encouraging lawmakers to start school no earlier than 8 a.m., was presented to members of Congress last week with nearly 5,000 signatures from all 50 states.

More than 1,000 of the signatures came from Maryland parents and educators. 

"The [petition] comments range from student pleas for a more humane schedule to educators wishing their students weren't still asleep to health professionals and researchers seriously concerned about the damage we're doing to kids' mental and physical health," said movement organizer Heather Macintosh.

The school starting times at elementary schools in Eldersburg and Sykesville recently changed, sending some local students to school 80 minutes earlier this fall. 

What do you think—are Carroll County school hours OK or is there room for change?

jag March 28, 2012 at 01:30 PM
With national studies showing high school students do better when they start later, what does Carroll County do? CCPS will start high school even earlier!!! CCPS & the members on the BOE are not interested in seeing students get the best possible education. They are all full of hot air and incapable of making the tough decisions. It might upset some parents.
jean March 28, 2012 at 04:18 PM
MOST elementary & middle schools are starting close to the same or later. High schools are NOT changing that much. Many high schoolers have necessary jobs or sibling childcare responsibilities that they need to be out of school for. Athletics, music and drama programs would be running well past dinner and into bedtimes if they don't start early. The research is nothing new, but the fact is early starts for high schoolers is what is necessary, always has been and teenagers adjust and do absolutely fine. Stop complaining and help your child get to bed earlier, use their time wisely in the evening, SUPPORT them. CCPS does their best job to provide top notch education with the little funding they get. This change keeps in place smaller classes, instructional assistants, athletics, music, art....
Alissa March 28, 2012 at 04:52 PM
My son is in the 10th grade and regulates his own schedule and is responsible for his own school work, etc. The notion that he should "just go to bed earlier" is really misguided. Between running track and AP/Honors classes, he's sometimes lucky to go to bed at all and he's not alone. Often, he just has more to do than time to do it in. Many sports already go well past the dinner hour, particularly away games, to 9 or 10 pm. The point is that while CCPS does an outstanding job, they missed an opportunity to do what is optimal for teens by making high schools start even earlier. Why wouldn't we want to align high school schedules in a way that best supports teens' optimal sleep patterns, particularly if we're already realigning bell schedules, anyway?
Wrm March 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM
The point of the change of schedules was to save $2 million! Maybe parents should present a new proposal that includes later starts for high schools that also saves the county the money ( money that will allow hard working teachers a cost of living increase for the first time in 5 years!) my students participate in drama and AP classes. They are responsible for finishing homework on their own and regulating their schedules, too! But there is one thing my students don't have control over and that is wi-fi access after 10:45--it shuts off! Guaranteed that high schoolers would get more sleep if they couldn't sit up at night on their electronic devices. I have seen the studies for years but I also know that my students are at school for 10 hrs/day 5 days a week during rehearsals and even longer the week before the show. I would hate for that 10 hrs to stretch into 6 or 7 pm!
Chris E March 28, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I think starting elementary school kids at 7:45 is crazy. The will likely have to be up between 6 and 6:30 in the morning in order to get ready, eat, and make it to the bus in time. On the other hand starting at 9:30 and ending at 4pm is equally stupid. By the time they get home they barely have enough time to do homework if they have any type of sports activity, music lessons, or boys scouts/girl scouts. Then is is dinner, shower, and bed. There is no time for family time or anything else for that matter.
Alissa March 28, 2012 at 10:18 PM
My son doesn't use "electronic devices" and therefore doesn't "sit up all night" on one. Consolidating the bus schedules and starting later are not mutually exclusive goals.
PP March 29, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Cut the summer break! Have more days at school and shorter time during the day. That will let kids to come to school later and leave earlier with enough time for after school activities.
Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. March 29, 2012 at 03:53 AM
As this discussion shows, the issue of school start times is complex and highly charged emotionally - which is why it has gone unresolved at the local level for decades despite compelling research suggesting the huge disservice we're doing to our children and communities by starting school at times incompatible with health and overall well-being. For more background about how this problem might at last be resolved, see StartSchoolLater.net. You can also still sign our petition for a minimum school start of 8 a.m. at http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139. Names and comments are automatically sent to national leaders, and we have also been hand delivering the petition to Capitol Hill in a series of "Wake Up Wednesdays." Ultimately, local school systems must set their own hours, but we hope the petition will at the very least spark a national conversation on the issue that will facilitate local change. The public health and research community is on board. Now we just need to overcome the political obstacles.
I. DeFeo March 31, 2012 at 02:56 PM
The problem with this discussion is that we have all different start times throughout the county to accomodate bus schedules. The high schools generally begin much earlier in order to allow teenagers time for sports practice and after school jobs. Now, in order to save money by eliminating some buses, the start times ranges are even larger for the entire county. It's really a complex issue in finding reasonable times for each level of schooling/ages, saving money, and being practical. I can see where different people are coming from depending on the ages of their children and how they are being affected by the changes
Grover Sharp April 01, 2012 at 12:08 PM
My understanding of this issue is that it was the idea of a leader who is no longer in Pupil Transportation . The idea was to consolidate School Bus Routes thereby saving the County money by eliminating 40 School buses and their drivers. I don't think County Taxpayers are happy with the results nor should they be.Contact the County Commisioners and let them know how you feel.
The Burbs April 02, 2012 at 02:48 PM
CCPS was/is in a difficult spot with the budget shortfall they were facing, so they looked at what changes could be made with minimal impact to the curriculum or facilities. I understand that the reduction of approximately 40 bus routes saves money, but there are other unintended economic consequences as well. For example, we have 2 children that currently use after school care due to our work schedules. For 2012-13 school year, we have made adjustments that will let eliminate after school care which is an expense, but my wife has had to move to part-time because of the later start time. The net result is a loss of income to our family. We have several other family friends who now have to spend money for before school care since they don't have the ability to come in after 8:30am at their job. In our development, the net result is less disposable income to many homes. How does this affect the local economy? Maybe that is not Superintendent Guthrie's concern, but there is an economic impact nonetheless. Saving $2M is a lot of money, but how much of the overall CCPS budget does that represent? We live less than 0.5 miles from the elementary school that our children attend, yet they need to take the bus b/c the town does not have sidewalks to get to the school safely. Seems there might be other alternatives not considered, like crossing guards that would let some kids get themselves to school, thereby reducing busing needs as well.
Brad Smith April 18, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I can't believe 5000 people think this is an issue for the Federal Government? Unless there are some federal funds that are tied into start times, this has nothing to do with the Federal Government, and should be decided at the county level. That being said, if school started later, so would school traffic and that'd be nice for the rest of us, especially if it ended early enough to not interfere with the from work to home commute.
Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. April 19, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Brad, I agree that it's very sad (and absurd) that we have to turn to federal (or even state/county) officials to rectify this situation. But the petition text (http://tinyurl.com/82leprp) explains why this is necessary. It also turns out that many aspects of school policy are regulated by state and federal government, particularly when local school systems cannot or will not set policies to protect basic rights, including rights to health and safety. This is along the same vein as Child Labor Laws and Child Car Seat Restraint Laws. Federal mandates have been put in place when it concerns the minimum levels of health and safety for all children. Examples include: Federal nutrition standards for school meals Federally mandated school wellness policies Federal gun free schools / zero tolerance School start times are similarly a matter of public health & safety. State and local medical groups have been advocating later school start times since the 1990s, but an entire generation has grown up without anything changing (my own children included). If we believe the science on this subject, it seems negligent not to address it immediately. If the counties will do so, fine, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
Heather Macintosh July 09, 2012 at 04:02 PM
What's happening in Carroll County since this article came out? I read that 72% of voters on this poll felt that school should start later - is there any effort to pursue the issue with the school board here? Start School Later is still working on the national and now also state and local level towards a healthier school schedule. Local chapters in Anne Arundel County and possibly Montgomery are forming. Contact www.startschoollater.net if you'd like to learn more about recent science, legislation and state/county activities across the country.

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