EDUCATION

Montgomery County schools may delay start times

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - A lot has changed since 1993, but Montgomery County High School bell times have not.

Schools currently begin the day at 7:25 a.m. sharp, a time that is not the most conducive to teens who need their sleep.

"In my first period, there's always like one or two kids who are passed out every single day -- the teacher just gives up on them," says student Bonnie Katz.

While there's no proof that more sleep results in improved test scores, research does show that students with later start times are safer behind the wheel, more fit, and display greater self confidence.

Superintendent Starr is now proposing that schools delay their start times by 50 minutes to 8:15 a.m. Middle schools would start ten minutes earlier at 7:45 a.m., and elementary schools would extend their days by 30 minutes, pushing the last bell to 3:35 p.m. or 4 p.m. -- depending on the school.

School leaders admit that modified start times would create a need for more buses and drivers, or add approximately $12,000 a year to an already cash-strapped budget.

A handful of committees will take a closer look at the pros and cons over the next six months before superintendent Starr makes a final recommendation this spring.

However, the school board has the ultimate say. If it votes yes, changes could be seen by August 2015.

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