School Will Start Later in Montgomery County Next Year

Public Input Wanted on School Bell Times   for slider 450 x 280Montgomery County Public Schools students will be able to sleep in a little more next year.

After lots of discussion and lobbying by parents and students, the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education voted to approve on Feb. 10 the superintendent’s recommendation to move school start times back 20 minutes for middle school and high school students. Elementary school students will start school ten minutes later.

The change will take effect in the 2015/2016 school year.

This change will not affect the order in which students go to school, but will lengthen the elementary school day by 10 minutes, making it 6 hours and 25 minutes. The additional 10 minutes will only be used for lunch or recess.

High school students will attend school from 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and middle school students will attend school from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Elementary schools that begin at 8:50 a.m. will now begin at 9 a.m. and will end at 3:25 p.m. (Tier 1). Elementary schools that begin at 9:15 a.m. will now begin at 9:25 a.m. and end at 3:50 p.m. (Tier 2).

“Although 20 minutes may not be ideal for extending sleep time for all high school students, it is a move in the right direction,” said Patricia O’Neill, president of the Board of Education. “We want to thank the community for sharing their thoughts and concerns with us and for being very engaged throughout this process.”

The change in bell times will have no impact on the district’s operating budget. Adjusting the start time for elementary schools by 10 minutes instead of 20 minutes shortens the length of the transportation window, which ultimately reduces costs by $1.3 million. No additional buses for general education or special education will be needed. The additional 10 minutes for the elementary school day will require the district to fund 37.7 additional lunch hour aide positions at a cost of $1.07 million, which is offset by cost savings resulting from the shortening of the transportation window.

“The Board of Education discussed and deliberated this issue a great deal and carefully weighed all of the options,” O’Neill said. “In the end, I believe that we were able to balance the desire to start school later with the fiscal realities we are facing as a county.”

The change in bell times was approved on a 5-3 vote with O’Neill and Board members Phil Kauffman, Jill Ortman-Fouse, Rebecca Smondrowski and Dahlia Huh voting in favor. Board members Christopher Barclay and Judy Docca and Vice President Michael Durso voted against changing bell times.

Before the vote, a modification recommended by Boardmember Phil Kauffman was voted down, 5-3.

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.


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