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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?

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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