A long-awaited vote on whether Montgomery County should shift the start times of the high school day has been scheduled for the June 17 school board meeting.
The vote is expected eight months after Superintendent Joshua P. Starr proposed resetting opening bells at Montgomery’s high schools to 8:15 a.m., a move intended to allow sleep-deprived teenagers to get more rest. High school classes now begin at 7:25 a.m., with buses picking up many students in the 6 o’clock hour.
Advocates said this week they are encouraging parents and other petition signers to weigh in again with school officials.
“We’re looking forward to a final discussion and the board doing the right thing on a public health issue,” said Mandi Mader, the Garrett Park parent who launched the petition. “I feel if the issue was lead paint removal or asbestos, there would be no debate.”
Since Starr issued his proposal in October, Montgomery has conducted surveys of thousands of students, staff and parents, while also looking more deeply into issues of cost and bus transportation.
The district has not yet released results of those efforts.
Starr’s proposal is intended to benefit high school students but would affect all students. Middle schoolers would start at 7:45 a.m., 10 minutes earlier than now. Elementary school children would have a longer day, going 30 minutes later in the afternoons.
Much of the community opposition to Starr’s proposal appears to have come from parents who object to the 30-minute school day extension for elementary school children. School officials say Montgomery’s elementary students now have the second-shortest school day in Maryland.
A work group has been examining how the extra 30 minutes could be used.