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Chesterfield school starting times proposal released

Manchester High School (Source: NBC12)
Manchester High School (Source: NBC12)
Published: Feb. 7, 2017 at 9:19 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 13, 2017 at 4:20 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield School Board members now have a proposal to change start times for middle and high schools for the 2018-19 school year.

As part of the proposal, school officials will look at plans that include purchases additional buses that would allow students to start after 8:30 a.m.

The current proposal has these operating schedules for schools:

  • 7:35 a.m.-2:05 p.m.: Middle schools (with the exception of Tomahawk Creek Middle)
  • 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

Chesterfield schools says the current high school schedule does not align with medical research.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Centers for Disease Control all suggest high school starting times should be later than the 7:25 a.m. schedule in Chesterfield County," the school system said in a news release. 

Additional information about the proposal will be posted on the School Board's website.

Right now, school starts at 9 a.m. for 7-year-old Cameron Lee. If he had to go to school at 7:45 a.m. instead?

"OMG. I would hate that," said Cameron Lee.

That's because Cameron Lee likes his beauty rest. But for mom, changing the time he goes to class would help a great deal.

"I have to be to work by 8 a.m. and his father has to be at work at 7:30," said Jennifer Lee.

It's why Cameron's parents have to pay for a before-school program, so he can wait nearly two hours before his school opens at 9 a.m. The school district took the issue of start times to parents - 14,000 responses came in over a one-month period.

One of the biggest takeaways: seven out of 10 parents wanted to change the time high school starts.

School leaders had to balance all of the opinions with what fits best for the district. The new plan would split some elementary schools between different times.

"That gets a bit confusing. It does," said Jennifer Lee.

It would also mean changes for 9th grader Jaedyn Lee, whose school day currently begins at 7:20 a.m.

"I would get time to sleep more, but I wouldn't like it," said Jaedyn Lee.

The proposed changes would not go into effect until the 2018-2019 school year, but It may take some convincing to sell it.

"There's such a huge gap," said Jennifer Lee. "If they were closer together where they were back to back it would be easier not only for children but for parents."

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