Chesterfield parents have mixed thoughts on school start time changes

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Bells will be ringing a little later for high schoolers in Chesterfield County come September.

After two years of conversations in the community, the school board unanimously approved changing the start times for the district.

“You’re teaching them laziness,” said parent Nykeshia Butler. Butler is moving her kids to the county in the coming months.

“They need to get up in the morning, they need to get up and do these things,” Butler said.

She thinks teens need to be getting out of class earlier than their younger siblings.

“That way they get it out earlier to help mom and dad out in the evening with the little ones,” she added.

But that might not be the case. The school board unanimously approved school start time changes for the 2018-2019 academic year on Tuesday night. Classes will begin an hour later for high school students. Most of the elementary and middle schools will start earlier.

Here is what the new schedule will be:

  •  7:35 a.m.-2:05 p.m.: Middle schools (with the exception of Tomahawk Creek because of extremely long bus rides)
  •  7:45 a.m.-2:15 p.m.: Bensley, Bon Air, Crenshaw, Clover Hill, Jacobs Road and Wells elementary schools
  •  8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.: All high schools, Tomahawk Creek Middle, and Alberta Smith, Chalkley, Grange Hall, Matoaca and Salem Church elementary schools
  •  9:25 a.m.-3:55 p.m.: All remaining elementary schools

In a release, School Board Vice Chair John Erbach said, “It is an imperfect compromise. When we went out to the public, we heard many people saying they want us to reduce costs. I want to commend our Superintendent and his team for reducing the costs tremendously.”

District leaders say one of the reasons is because studies reveal sleep patterns change for teens when they’re going through puberty. But some parents still aren’t buying it.

“But to change their time later because they’re tired is a little silly,” Butler said.


Others think the change might be good, since their grandkids wait outside early in the morning for the school bus.

“I mean later in the morning may work out for him, because he has to get up so early,” said Pearl Cooper of Chesterfield. Her grandchildren go to school in the area.

There will be more bus drivers on the road too. The proposed budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year includes $500,000 to ramp up recruitment efforts, according to the school board. The final annual implementation cost is project to be $1.9 million, which will cover 30 new drivers, fuel and bus maintenance.

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