Local News

Wake School Leaders Debate New Start Schedules For Students

Posted January 21, 2004

— Wake reassignment is not the only controversy with the schools. Parents may soon learn if a student's class schedule will change.

The school system is considering three proposals. One plan would not change much at all, but the most controversial plan would let high schoolers sleep in and require elementary children start school nearly two hours earlier. All three proposals were debated Wednesday.

Anthony Rogers takes his children to and from Joyner Elementary School every day. He likes the idea of starting the day earlier.

"My kids get up early anyway. I think they'll like it. They'll get home earlier. They'll do their homework earlier and then they get to watch TV," he said.

Wake County's program committee is weighing the pros and cons of changing the current bell schedule. Officials are looking at research that said teenagers could learn more with more sleep.

Eve Coats said waking up her 5-year-old daughter even earlier will be tough. She has other doubts.

"I think it's crazy," she said. "High school students will probably stay up later and won't get the additional sleep, which proponents think they might."

Some principals do not like the idea either. The local chapter of Association of Educators said teachers are split. Some choose to teach at a school for its current schedule. High School coaches say the decision could affect sports.

"Many do acknowledge there are consequences beyond reading and math scores," said Dr. Karen Banks, assistant superintendent for research and evaluation.

The program committee will meet again in February and then make a recommendation to the full school board. Members know whatever proposal they suggest will have opponents.

"We'll be listening to parents, of course, considering the costs of making a switch and considering the research that says when children learn best," said Kathryn Watson Quigg, chairwoman of the program committee.

The superintendent said safety of students should be the No. 1 priority as they decide on a plan. The one that would cost the most from a transporation standpoint would be the plan to reverse schedules for high school and elementary students. Transportation leaders estimate they would need $2.6 million more to operate 25 additional buses.

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