Community Forum on School Bell Times

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is continuing to gather broad community feedback on proposed changes to school starting and ending times, also known as bell times. Over the next two months, that feedback will include surveys of MCPS students, staff, and parents, as well as community forums and self-guided discussion groups on the proposal.

The third of four community forums will be held tonight (Monday, Jan. 6), 7-8:30 p.m., at Seneca Valley High School.

On Oct. 1, Superintendent Joshua P. Starr recommended that MCPS consider moving high school start times 50 minutes later (from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.); moving middle school start times 10 minutes earlier (from 7:55 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.); and keeping elementary school start times as they currently are (8:50 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.), but extending the school day by 30 minutes. His recommendation was based on the findings of the 2013 Bell Times Work Group, which studied school start times and the impact they have on student well-being, especially in high school.

In October, MCPS began a comprehensive effort to gather feedback from the community, including students, staff, parents, business leaders, and community members. Those efforts will continue into the spring, at which time the input will be compiled and submitted to Dr. Starr and Montgomery County Board of Education members, who will make a final decision on whether to change bell times. The earliest any changes to starting and ending times would occur is the 2015-2016 school year.

Joshua Starr featured
“We have received a tremendous amount of feedback on my recommendation, so far, and will continue to gather input until I am confident the entire community has had the opportunity to weigh in,” Dr. Starr said. “I think this is an important issue that should be considered, but we will not move forward until we have a broad understanding of how it will impact our entire community.”

 
Community Forums

Two community forums have already been held—on Oct. 28 and Dec. 16—with more than 350 people providing input and asking questions. Two more community forums will be held in the coming weeks:

  • TODAY, Monday, Jan. 6: Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown
  • Monday, Feb. 10: Montgomery Blair High School, 51 University Blvd., East, in Silver Spring

All forums will be held 7 p.m. –8:30 p.m. Free child care (ages 4 and older) and interpretation services will be provided.

Surveys

From mid-January until the end of March, MCPS will survey students, staff and parents on Dr. Starr’s recommendation. The surveys will be administered electronically.

A random sampling of parents will receive a letter from MCPS, providing them with a passcode they can use to take the survey. The parent sample will be representative of the MCPS community, demographically and geographically, and the survey will be available in multiple languages.

Students in selected grades in elementary, middle, and high schools will be provided the opportunity to take a survey as well. All students in grades 4 and 5, 7 and 8, and 10 and 11 will be asked to participate in the surveys.

MCPS will survey all of its employees about the proposal.

Neighbor to Neighbor

Since early November, MCPS has been gathering input on the recommendation through the “Neighbor to Neighbor” campaign. Neighbor to Neighbor provides people an opportunity to participate in a self-guided discussion group, using an online toolkit. The self-guided discussions can be hosted at schools, in people’s homes or at community gathering places.

The Neighbor to Neighbor website provides a toolkit with resources for those who wish to host or participate in an event, which includes step-by-step instructions; an overview video on the bell times report and recommendation; informative handouts that can be shared with attendees; and questions to guide the discussion. Each Neighbor to Neighbor discussion group is asked to provide feedback to MCPS, which will be considered by Dr. Starr and the Board of Education as they consider their final decision on bell times. MCPS has received feedback from more than 25 Neighbor to Neighbor discussions, so far.

Members of the public can also send feedback by email to belltimes@mcpsmd.org. For more information about recommendation and ways the community can offer input, visit the MCPS Bell Times website

Additional coverage

School Bell Times to Change (VIDEO)

photo of Dahlia Huh at the press conference following change to school bell times

The Board of Education voted to push back school start times for all students beginning next school year. MCPS-TV has the story. Visit our PEG partner MCPS TV to view more of its local programming. Related:

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Community Forum on School Bell Times

Seneca Valley High School

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is continuing to gather broad community feedback on proposed changes to school starting and ending times, also known as bell times. Over the next two months, that feedback will include surveys of MCPS students, staff, and parents, as well as community forums and self-guided discussion groups on the proposal. The […]

Read more

Oct. 21 Board of Education Meeting

Board of Education Table photo

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education (BOE) will meet Oct. 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The public portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the MCPS website and on MCPS TV (Comcast Channel […]

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Oct. 8 Board of Education Meeting

Board of Education Table photo

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education (BOE) will meet Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The public portion of the meeting begins at 9 a.m. and will be broadcast live on the MCPS website and on MCPS TV (Comcast Channel […]

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Starr Recommends Later High School Start (Video)

Joshua Starr featured

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Joshua Starr is recommending that the district consider pushing back high school start times by 50 minutes and extending the elementary school day by 30 minutes. The recommendation is based on the report by the 2013 Bell Times Work Group, which has been studying the issue of school starting […]

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Later Start Time For High Schools? (Infographic)

sleepy teen in school

Superintendent Starr has recommended later start times for high school and a longer elementary school day. According to MCPS, broad input will be gathered and no change would be made to school starting or ending times before the 2015-2016 school year; at the earliest.

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MCPS to Study School Start Times

Joshua Starr

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Joshua Starr announced on Dec. 11 the establishment of a work group to study the issue of school bell times. The work group will look at past reports done by MCPS on this issue; review public input and correspondence that have been received; analyze the efforts of other jurisdictions […]

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