HISD trustees vote to keep current bell schedule

June 10, 2011 2:48:56 AM PDT
HISD leaders have decided against a proposal that would impose new start and end times for schools across the district. During a meeting Thursday evening, the proposal didn't earn enough votes to make the change.

School board members Larry Marshall, Greg Meyers, and Paula Harris voted in favor of the new measure, but trustees Harvin Moore, Anna Eastman, Juliet Stipeche, and Michael Lunceford voted against it. Trustees Manuel Rodriguez Jr. and Carol Mims Galloway were not present for the vote.

The district was considering making a change to start and end times in an attempt to save about $1.2 million in transportation costs yearly. High schools would have started at 7:45am and end at 3:15pm; middle schools would have started at 8:45am and ended at 4:15pm.

However, trustees who voted to keep the current schedule cited research that shows high school students benefit from later start times.They also liked the idea of giving schools the flexibility to decide their own schedules.

Earlier Thursday

HISD calls it schedule standardizing, but some parents call it a headache. HISD says by starting and stopping schools at the same times all across the district, they can save money. But not all board members agree.

Bronwyn Lauder says any school schedule change would change the schedule of her household -- a change she says would create difficulty.

"For me personally, it would be a hardship," Lauder said. "We are not zoned to the school that my son attends so it will add quite a bit of time when we find ourselves in rush hour traffic."

HISD's transportation budget cuts have already totaled $2 million. Now, the board will vote to cut even more by considering standardizing start and end times for every HISD campus.

Here are the recommended changes:

  • The board will consider two options for elementary schools -- Start at 7:30am and end at 2:45pm or start at 8:30am and end at 3:45pm
  • Middle schools would start at 8:45am, ending at 4:15pm
  • High schools would all start at 7:45am and end at 3:15pm
  • It's a scary thought for parent Chryshanthi Vethan, with children in different schools.

    She said, "It will be kind of tough trying to beat the traffic and get everyone here at the same time."

    HISD says standardized times would save an estimated $1.2 million. The amount of students would increase on individual buses from an estimated 25 to 35 students. Up to 100 buses would be removed from service. As for class time, the average increase would be an additional nine minutes of instruction per day.

    One board member says he's voting against it, and worries the estimated savings would be spent elsewhere.

    HISD Trustee Mike Luceford said, "Some of those schools that are changing their times, it's going to be a cost to the school. Have we really analyzed? Are we just transferring the cost of the transportation department to the school? And we've already cut the funding from the schools so they're already hurting. Is it a double whammy?"

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