A consultants report on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools busing and bell schedules, originally planned for September release, wont come out until October, the districts chief of staff said Wednesday.
Bell schedules the time schools open and dismiss have been a topic of heated debate for the last two years, since district leaders added 45 minutes for elementary students and created a late schedule for some schools. The changes saved money on busing because staggered schedules let each bus serve up to four schools.
Transportation experts from the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban school districts, visited Charlotte this summer to talk with CMS officials, faculty and families. CMS will spend up to $18,000 on the report, which will analyze costs and other issues associated with changing school hours.
Teachers and families have voiced a number of concerns. Some say extending the time elementary students spend in class, from six hours and 15 minutes to seven hours, squeezed out teacher planning time and leaves faculty and students exhausted. Some say the late schedule launched for some elementary and middle schools in 2011, with schools opening at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 4:15 p.m., cuts into time for homework, after-school activities and family togetherness. And some say the longstanding high school hours of 7:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. runs counter to the natural sleep cycle of teens, putting them at a disadvantage in morning classes.
But there are counterpoints to all those opinions. Some support the longer days, which provide more time for teaching, and some say they like the later hours. The early dismissal for high schools allows time for sports, other activities and after-school jobs.
It is a balance, and you need to look at the needs of our entire community, Superintendent Heath Morrison said in a recent CMS broadcast, answering a parents question about school hours.
Earnest Winston, Morrisons chief of staff, said in August that CMS planned to release the consultants report in September. But on Wednesday, Winston said Morrison has not yet received a final report from the Council of the Great City Schools.
We expect to release the report in the next few weeks, Winston said.
The bell schedules and the way changes were made in 2011, with little public discussion in the midst of budget cuts and talk of massive layoffs, are emerging as issues in school board campaigns. The six district seats are on the Nov. 5 ballot, along with a $290 million CMS bond package.
When asked if the report might be delayed until after the election, Winston said no. It will be released in October, he said.
Helms: 704-358-5033; Twitter: @anndosshelms
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