Published: Jun 08, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Jun 06, 2011 09:56 PM
The Durham school board has tabled delaying high school students' morning bell in the hopes of improving their performance.
Board members recently agreed to send the proposal, which would require a district-wide shift in bell and busing schedules, back to staff to see if the changes fit with the recently rolled out Durham Public Schools strategic plan.
Those who support starting the school day later for older students will have to convince skeptics the change is worth all the hassle.
"You are going to have to show me the data that says urban children are doing much better when they go to school later," board Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown said.
Last year, the board sought public input on staggering bell schedules. For most DPS middle and high school students, the school day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Elementary school days generally run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
With some studies showing high school students may perform better if schools start later, the school board floated the idea of having them attend classes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make that work within the overall school system, elementary start times would have ranged from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and middle school classes would have started at 7:30 a.m.
The board decided to table the discussion and keep current start times for next year after it became clear that members were divided.
Board members Leigh Bordley and Nancy Cox wanted to continue exploring the changes. Under the current plan, school officials appear to be "fighting biology" by having high school students get to school so early, they said.
"I view it as something we can do to improve our students learning experience," Bordley said.
Forte-Brown and board member Omega Curtis Parker expressed concerns about the changes. Forte-Brown said that schools prepare students for the job market, which includes getting up early. Parker said she was concerned about the younger children having to wait for the bus in the dark on early mornings.