Rockingham County school leaders unanimously vote on start time change

By  | 

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE(2/24/2020 9:15 p.m.):

The pilot program would stagger start times for Turner Ashby High School and the schools that feed into it.

The Rockingham County School Board voted unanimously on Monday night for a staggered school start time pilot program for some students.

The program would affect Turner Ashby High School students and the middle schools that feed into it starting in the 2020-2021 school year.

In the original proposal, elementary school students would be in class from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; however, school leaders did not make a decision regarding the start times for those students.

School leaders did vote on Monday on a proposal for middle and high school students to start class around 9:00 a.m. and get out around 3:00 p.m.

In total, students' school days would be shortened by about 45 minutes.

The proposed time change came after research was done by the school district's innovation committee. It showed students benefit from more sleep in the morning and are better engaged in class.

The school board said the start time would shorten the day, but still provide the number of educational hours needed by the state of Virginia.

Still, some parents, like Stacey Benner, who has kids at Wilbur S. Pence Middle School and one headed to Turner Ashby High School next year, believe the school board should have hold off on their vote and get a more accurate opinion by sending surveys to all parents affected.

"The changes that it's going to make to our families, our teachers, and our lives in general," Benner said. "It's just huge, and like I said before, I don't think there has been enough time, I don't understand what the rush is."

Benner said she is also concerned about how exactly teachers will be able to teach everything needed with a shorter day.

According to Superintendent Scheikl, though, teachers would be given 45 minutes of uninterrupted planning time everyday.

This pilot program is set to begin next school year.