Wake Ed

Start time changes recommended for six Wake County schools

Rising Knightdale High students, from left, Grant Thompson, Roldanny Alvarez and Christina Tary experiment with their balloon-propelled cars at freshman camp in 2015. Students could have 40 minutes less sleep this fall under a recommended schedule change that would start classes earlier at 7:25 p.m.
Rising Knightdale High students, from left, Grant Thompson, Roldanny Alvarez and Christina Tary experiment with their balloon-propelled cars at freshman camp in 2015. Students could have 40 minutes less sleep this fall under a recommended schedule change that would start classes earlier at 7:25 p.m. News & Observer file photo

Six Wake County schools could see changes this fall in the times they start and end the school day.

Wake County school administrators recommended Tuesday that Enloe and Knightdale high schools, Lufkin and Wendell middle schools and Fuquay-Varina and Green elementary schools get new bell schedules for the 2016-17 school year. Proposed shifts range from five minutes to 45 minutes.

Pending public feedback, the board will approve the bell schedules on March 15. Parents can go to https://wcpss.granicusideas.com/discussions/school-bell-schedules to comment on the proposal.

Knightdale High School could start 40 minutes earlier, running from 7:25 a.m. to 2:18 p.m. Bob Snidemiller, Wake’s senior director of transportation, said the change was requested by Knightdale High to align it with the times used by most of the district’s high schools.

Knightdale High currently dismisses at 3 p.m. Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said ending school earlier would increase after-school opportunities for students and help families where the older sibling is providing childcare. The earlier dismissal would also cut back on student-athletes missing class when they leave early for events.

“Right now the later start time is impeding the ability of some of the students to participate in the after-school activities,” Moore told the board.

Lufkin Road Middle School in Apex and Wendell Middle School could both start 45 minutes later, running from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. It would put both schools on the same schedule used by most of the middle schools.

Snidemiller said the Wendell Middle change is needed to help have enough buses to accommodate the Knightdale High switch. The Lufkin change would help accommodate how Apex Friendship High will have more students this fall as it adds a junior class.

Green Elementary School in Raleigh could start 45 minutes later, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The change would put Green on the same time used by most of the elementary schools. School board member Christine Kushner said the later start would help with morning traffic on Six Forks Road.

“I think it’s a good move for Green,” Kushner said.

Fuquay-Varina Elementary School could start five minutes later, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. This would align the school to the time used by most elementary schools.

Enloe High School in Raleigh could start five minutes later, from 7: 25 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. The change was requested by the school and would shrink the school day by 20 minutes.

Five new schools are opening on bell schedules that match the times used by most schools at their grade level. Beaverdam, Oakview, Pleasant Grove and White Oak elementary schools could run from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Pine Hollow Middle School could run from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wake operates on a three-tier transportation system, meaning many buses run multiple routes in the morning and afternoon. This saves money by reducing the number of buses needed to transport Wake’s more than 75,000 bus riders.

Most high schools start on the first tier with classes beginning by 7:30 a.m. Some parents and students have complained that having high schools start so early doesn’t allow enough sleep time for teens.

The majority of middle schools start on the second tier between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The second tier is generally the most popular with families.

Most elementary schools operate on the third tier starting at 9:15 a.m. Some parents complain that this is too late a start, resulting in parents needing to find before-school care.

“We don’t have the funds to start everyone at 8:30,” Kushner said. “It’s not practical.”

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