MCEA proposes start time change


Steven Roth, Print News Editor

The Montgomery County Educators Association (MCEA) has proposed modifying school start and end times for elementary, middle and high school students starting in September 2017.
The association, which represents more than 12,000 educators, shared three proposals for new school day schedules that call for high school start and end times to be pushed back anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour.
Two of the proposals are expected to cost approximately $1.3 million, while the third will cost at least $3.1 million. Though cost is a concern, organizing and implementing these proposed changes are of more importance for most students and teachers.
“It’s up to the county to really sit down and think ‘how do we schedule this.’ If they just worry about the start times, everything is going to go downhill fast. If the county actually sits down and can adjust sports and other after-school activities then these new schedules could work,” history teacher Mitchell Joy said.

“My concern is that the county won’t do that, but will instead just adjust the times and let everything else go. Then people will start complaining and will have a right to do so.”
Students with after-school activities agree with Joy, noting that if sports and other after school activities are not scheduled properly, then changing the schedule will have an extremely negative impact on students and their high school experience.
“If school ends an hour later, then baseball practice would be pushed back by an hour. I’d get home an hour later, do homework an hour later, and ultimately end up going to sleep an hour later. I really hope that the schedule does not change again,” junior Jake Heffernan said.
Not only is organization and implementation an issue for most students and teachers, but all three proposals pose another problem that some teachers in the association may not have recognized, which is if elementary and middle school students are required to attend school an hour later or are dismissed an hour earlier than high school students, their parents, who may be at work or have older siblings in high school, may not be able to pick up or drop off their children or younger siblings at school.
“It’s negative and the solution to deal with it would be paying someone to watch our kids. It’s crazy, it’s a lot of money,” P.E. teacher Gladwin Warden said.
Though all three proposals will drastically affect those who participate in after-school activities and have children or younger siblings, some people believe that these proposals could still be a positive change.
“I’m concerned about mental health,”Joy said. “I see students in the morning and they are comatose and not productive. Considering that they do well anyway with so little sleep is very impressive, but imagine how well they would perform with a lot of sleep. I would love to see kids at their best potential, and if that means they get up later, I’m all for it.”
The decision whether to alter bell schedules has produced extremely mixed reactions, but ultimately this scheduling decision is up to the MCPS board, not the teachers or the students.
“I hope high school does not start too late, such as at 8:50 a.m., but I realize I have no control over it,” history teacher Jeremy Butler said.
A vote on the three possible bell schedules is expected in November, while a formal request to the MCPS board is expected in late autumn of 2017. It remains unclear whether one of these three schedules will ultimately be enacted.
“As far as I know, the bell schedule is going to stay the same next year,” Principal Jennifer Baker said.