Parents, students and teachers are telling Wake County school leaders in advance of Tuesday’s school board vote that they don’t want start times changed this fall at five schools.
School administrators are recommending changing the bell schedules for Apex High, Wake Forest Middle and Apex, Heritage and North Forest Pines elementary schools for the 2017-18 school year. More than 220 comments, universally negative, have been made about the proposed changes on the school district’s online comment forum, http://bit.ly/2mYAkYD.
In addition, parents have left hundreds of angry emails with school board members.
Administrators are blaming the changes on not having enough bus drivers to accommodate four new schools this fall and Apex High students relocating to a new site in Cary while their campus is rebuilt. But parents say the solution shouldn’t disrupt the lives of the people at the five schools.
“You are giving the bus system priority over our children’s health and well-being,” said Madhavi Joshi, a parent at Apex High. “I suggest you take another look at the bus system and make changes there.”
The proposed changes are:
▪ Shift Apex High’s school day 15 minutes earlier, from 7:10 a.m. to 2:03 p.m
▪ Shift Apex Elementary 45 minutes later, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
▪ Shift Heritage Elementary in Wake Forest 15 minutes later, from 8:25 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
▪ Shift North Forest Pines Elementary in North Raleigh 90 minutes later, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m
▪ Shift Wake Forest Middle 10 minutes earlier, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
People are disputing the validity of a study that says Forest Pines Drive can safely handle the traffic from North Forest Pines and the adjoining Forest Pines Elementary both operating on the same bell schedule.
“Don’t punish schools who are already working hard to make the best place possible for students,” said Rebecca Womeldorf, a kindergarten teacher at North Forest Pines.
Families at Apex High question beginning classes earlier when research has shown middle schools and high schools shouldn’t start before 8:30 a.m. to give teens more time to sleep.
“This means kids might be getting up by 5:30 am or even 5:00 am for some kids 5 days a week,” wrote Colleen Thunes, an Apex High parent. “This is asking too much of teenagers that already need more sleep and do better starting later in the mornings.”
Apex Elementary families are complaining they’ll have to begin paying for before-school care with the later start.
“We will have to pay a big bill for childcare every month,” said Jing Cassaro, an Apex Elementary parent. “This will effectively be a tax on the families of Apex Elementary and a few other schools to solve a county wide problem. That’s not fair.”
Wake has received fewer, but still negative comments, about the changes at Heritage Elementary and Wake Forest Middle.