Howard County seeks feedback about school start time proposals
The No. 1 complaint from parents about the current school start times is that students, especially those in high school, are not getting enough sleep.
“We know that well-being is absolutely important. We want our students to get an adequate amount of sleep. We know that’s very important,” said Frank Eastham, with Howard County Public Schools.
Changing school start times would affect more than 50,000 students, including the 40,000 who take the bus to school.
Here’s what the district has in mind, based on four proposed models: Middle school and high school students would start the day between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. and be dismissed between 3:15 and 4 p.m. Elementary school students would begin their day anywhere between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m. and get out of school between 2:15 and 3 p.m.
“This impact affects every citizen in the county — because of traffic, because of before- and after-school care, because of jobs in the afternoon — so we really need to hear from the entire public about how they feel,” Eastham said.
Howard County has already taken a close look at what it would take to change current bus routes and still get students to school and back home on time.
“We believe that we have developed a solution so that when the various proposals are presented to us, we can then provide the final impact of what transportation services will involve,” said David Ramsey, with Howard County Public Schools.
District officials said they want to hear all sides of this issue before taking a final vote.
“As a kid, I remember, especially when I was in high school, having to get up early, but you kind of have to get used of that as an adult too. That’s my thought on that,” said Margaret Miller, a resident.
District officials said they are also mindful of how much it will cost to make the changes.
The school system is holding a number of regional meetings on this issue. The first is set for Nov. 30 at Marriotts Ridge High School.
Here is a breakdown of the proposals (from the link above):
School Start and Dismissal Times: Comparison Overview
Start Times and Delivery Windows
|Model One||Model Two||Model Three||Model Four|
|School Level||Delivery Window||Bell Time Window||Delivery Window||Bell Time Window||Delivery Window||Bell Time Window||Delivery Window||Bell Time Window|
|High Schools||15 min.||8:30 AM – 3:15 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||8:30 AM – 3:15 PM|
|Middle Schools||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||8:30 AM – 3:15 PM||15 min.||8:30 AM – 3:15 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM|
|Elementary Schools||15 min.||
|Cedar Lane||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM|
|Homewood||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM||15 min.||9:15 AM – 4:00 PM|
Number of Buses Required
|Current Model||Model One||Model Two||Model Three||Model Four|
|# General Buses||327||342||327||396||362|
|# Specialized Buses||126||127||128||127||127|
Projected Cost Increases
|Model One||Model Two||Model Three||Model Four|
|General Bus Fleet||$930,000||$0 – No impact||$4,428,000||$2,170,000|
|Specialized Bus Fleet||$80,000||$160,000||$80,000||$80,000|
|Cost Analysis Reserve||$300,000||$300,000||$300,000||$300,000|
|Projected Cost Increase||$1,781,804||$931,804||$5,315,706||$3,021,804|
Here are some of my questions…
- Why did they not put the current model in chart 1 above? They did add the current model to the number of buses chart in the middle.
- Model 3 is an increase of over 5 million dollars….and yet the timing is not significantly different than model 2 which costs less than one million dollar. How can they justify this with those start times?
- Flipping the start times and going after 7 year olds (as an example) to be at bus stops at 6:30am does not fix the problem. How after three years of committees is this what we have to choose from?
- On the survey, there is not a “none of the above” option for the various models. If forces you to select one (which you know that data will be used when presented back to the board). The school system should correct that oversight NOW and relaunch the survey.
- Was this a strategic decision by the school system to propose options that they knew would be rejected in order not to deal with the REAL issue? It has to be asked and I hope our new board asks that specific question.
I don’t do this often…but here is my recommendation to my readers: REJECT ALL OF THESE MODELS. Call, write, email or reach out on social media to your Board of Education members (the four returning and the three new board members) and tell them to send the school system back to come up with more appropriate options. Three years later and this is what we have to choose from…that is unacceptable. We all know there will be a cost associated with new school start times and once we have an appropriate option for our children, we can advocate to the County Council and County Executive for those funds.
Have a wonderful weekend.
More info can be found here: Four proposed new school starting time for HCPSS