Amid complaints from parents, the Wake County school system has tabled a recommendation to change the start time at a North Raleigh elementary school by 90 minutes next fall.
David Neter, Wake’s chief business officer, said school officials needed more time to study the impact of the proposed change for North Forest Pines Elementary. He said it would be better to revisit the topic for next school year, allowing time to gather feedback from parents.
Currently, North Forest Pines Elementary starts at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m. Under the recommendation, the school would start at 9:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.
The change would have allowed North Forest Pines to share buses with nearby Forest Pines Elementary School, a move meant to save money. The county could run seven fewer buses, according to school officials.
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Staff will take the extra time to conduct a traffic study of the feasibility of starting North Forest Pines and Forest Pines at the same time.
Initially, staff was going to recommend the change without a traffic study. But parents had a bevy of complaints about the plan, including the negative effect it could have on families who drive their children to school.
Forest Pines Elementary and North Forest Pines Elementary share a campus near the Wakefield area. The carpool line for Forest Pines Elementary extends past the entrance of North Forest Pines, said PTA president Kim Keith.
If both schools started and ended classes at the same time, she said, it would be tough for parents.
“It would just create a traffic nightmare on that road,” Keith said. “The schools were built and obviously opened on different bell schedules for a reason.”
Parent Ashley Hastings said she and her husband, who works with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, would have to change their work schedules if the school starts later.
Hastings said they adjusted their schedules so they could drop off their fourth-grader at North Forest Pines every morning and pick her up every afternoon.
“It’s drastic,” Hastings said of the change. “It’s going to create an incredible hardship for our family.”
The timing of the change was also a concern for parents. The deadline to apply for a school transfer has passed, so families wouldn’t have been able to switch to another school to accommodate schedules.
While the recommendation for North Forest Pines was delayed, Neter recommended on Tuesday changes at nine other schools, including:
▪ Wake Forest High School would operate five minutes earlier, from 7:20 a.m. to 2:13 p.m.
▪ Wake Forest Middle School would run 10 minutes later, from 7:40 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.
▪ Fuller Elementary School in Raleigh would operate five minutes earlier, from 9:10 a.m to 3:40 p.m.
▪ Washington and Yates Mill elementary schools in Raleigh would run five minutes later, from 9:20 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Administrators want the changes approved at the April 21 board meeting.
Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed to this report.