Fairfax County Takes Steps to Start School Later

Will Montgomery County follow its neighbor's efforts to send teens to school later in the morning?

Are today’s students up and out of the house too early?

The question has garnered a lot of talk on Patch sites around Montgomery County. Over said they’d prefer school hours to start later, and one of our bloggers has been advocating later start times. Now it seems that our neighbors in Fairfax County, VA, are beginning a third official attempt to push back school start times for students in high school.

“After 14 years of discussion and two formal attempts to address the issue on its own, the Fairfax County school board will look to a consultant to help it move forward on a resolution to start the system's high school schools after 8 a.m.,” . 

One of the biggest issues with changing school start times is coordinating bus schedules for drivers making multiple pick-ups and drop-offs each day. In Fairfax County, 1,081 buses transport about 130,000 students each day. In Montgomery County, a switch would likely be similarly complicated, with 1,264 buses transporting 98,000 students, according to Montgomery County Public School figures.

But, according to MCPS officials, the school system has no plans to emulate Fairfax’s efforts.

While some county residents have raised the subject in the past, there is no proposal currently in front of the school system, said Dana Tofig, spokesman for MCPS.

Do you think the cost of reorganizing school start times and bus schedules is worth it? Would you push for this to happen in Montgomery County?


Phyllis Payne June 15, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Many of the places that have done this, have done it without increasing the cost for buses/drivers. At this point, the scientists, researchers, pediatricians and mental health experts are starting to ask why school districts aren't attending to the research and providing high school start times that are in sync with student needs. Learning really benefits when students have a school schedule that is in sync with the time when they are normally awake. The current very early school schedules in Montgomery and Fairfax Counties run counter to teen body clocks and place an unnecessary barrier to student learning and HEALTH. We need to find a better approach to scheduling the school day. Buses should be serving student needs -- not the other way around.
Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. June 15, 2012 at 04:08 PM
This a problem throughout the entire country, and one probably not resolvable through local efforts alone. My recent comment in Education Week explains why we need to start treating school start times as a public health issue if we expect to see progress within our lifetimes (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/31snider.h31.html). For more information, see www.StartSchoolLater.net, a grassroots coalition based in Maryland that believes collective action on a national scale is required to jumpstart local change.


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