Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Learn more about CMS bell schedules

The task force studying Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bell schedules meets Thursday to continue talks about when schools should start and dismiss and how long the elementary day should be.

It's a debate that has been going for three years now,  and a topic of high interest to many families.  Yet CMS still seems to be struggling with the notion of opening these meetings to the public.


When Superintendent Heath Morrison announced the creation of 22 task forces in late 2012,  he said the meetings would be private,  although the reports would be public and town hall meetings would be held to discuss the issues.  He relented after the Observer questioned the legality of closing those meetings.

At the time,  CMS also had a group of staff and parents studying bell schedules,  but it wasn't deemed an official task force.  In October 2013,  Morrison and Chief Communication Officer Katherine Block said CMS would revive and expand the informal group,  making it an official CMS task force with public meetings.

I hadn't thought much about it until Susan Plaza,  a parent who has been pushing to shorten the elementary day and end a controversial late schedule,  posted on this blog that a meeting was set for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Government Center.  Someone else followed up Monday,  asking where to find info about the task force meetings.  I checked the CMS site and came up dry.

After I sent a query to spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte,  CMS posted this list of  "meeting times."  Except that you may notice,  as I did belatedly,  that there are no actual times,  just dates and locations. When I emailed again, Chief of Staff Earnest Winston said all the meetings are at 2 p.m.

CMS has released the 2014-15 bell schedule without any major changes from this year. The task force and CMS staff are expected to present any recommended changes,  along with academic and financial implications,  with plenty of time to prepare for 2015-16.

Meanwhile,  I also got curious about meetings of the latest CMS compensation task force.  As most of the official task forces reported their results last summer,  Morrison announced the launch of a new compensation task force,  his second and the fourth for CMS in as many years.  Here's the link that includes some information about that group,  which has concluded its work,  Stalberte tells me.

The moral:  Sometimes public bodies need public pressure to do their business in public,  whether those bodies are small charter schools or big districts.  Thanks to all of you who are pushing for full access and participation.


40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ann!

startschoollater.net

Please check out this website for information/medical studies and lots of articles about the subject of teens and later high school start times. Good stuff.

Early school hours PREVENT many students and even young teachers from getting the 8.5 - 9.25 hours per night that most teenagers and young adults need. (Elementary school-aged children may need 10-11 hours of sleep a night!)

Start School Later is a coalition of health professionals, sleep scientists, educators, parents, students, and other concerned citizens dedicated to increasing public awareness about the relationship between sleep and school hours and to ensuring school start times compatible with health, safety, education, and equity.

Wiley Coyote said...

...and you are surprised by this?

It's typical, educrat bureaucracy that has gone on for decades in public schools - being mushroomed.

Anonymous said...

all that hoopla when Heath announced the 22 Task forces, and then nothing. I guess the public should not be surprised. It's all how things "appear" now, not the results or final product.

Mary said...

As far as bell schedules go, the best thing to happen to our family and school was changing the bell schedule from 7:30 to 8:00am. It has made a huge difference for my kids, they are happier and more alert.

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of early school hours which means getting home at a decent time. The kids can get home early, play, do homework, eat and get to bed.

Works out fantastic for our family.

Anonymous said...

We like the 9:15 bell schedule. My husband and I are able to have breakfast with our two sons before we leave for work, they get a great night's sleep and can even complete homework in the morning. They both participate in evening activities and we have more freedom and family time together at night. It works for us and we are thankful everyday for it.

Carol S. said...

8:55am You must have young children?

Chipper said...

CMS and parents, compelling evidence now shows that starting middle and high school before the sun rises is out of sync with the biological clocks of young people (people ages 12-25).

Starting school at these hours has now been linked not only to widespread sleep deprivation but also to a host of physical, psychological, and educational problems. Meanwhile, no research has shown any benefit to requiring any child, of any age, to start instruction before 8 a.m. (teens would actually be better off after 8:30).

Ladyluck said...

Seriously, what has happened to childhood? We have young children waking up at 6am to go to school? In my day ALL schools started between 8am -9am, appropriate times for all children.

We have six year olds addicted to technology, carrying around their own ipods and iphones without limitations; eleven year old sons playing bloody battles of Assassin’s Creed over the Internet with strangers instead of playing ball outside; And 13 year old daughters shopping at Victoria’s Secret, wearing angel wings across their bums, looking far older than they are, and texting non-stop.

Parents need to wake up and be parents, stand up for what is right for your family. And if that means CMS adjusts bus schedules for elementary and high school hours that make sense then just do it already. Do what is right for our kids, and preserve their childhood.

Anonymous said...

It really means nothing unless CMS is willing to change the late bell. I have talked with them for 2 years about 9:15 and negative effects on students/staff. They seem not interested in glaring facts. My daughter has 1 more year then its off to private school as I am dont with CMS.
I will let my boys try AG opposed to Carmel since the times are earlier and the both buses pass our neighborhood.
CMS has the facts they know the late bell is terrible on a MAJORITY of the students/staff. Turnover at one school is over 35% year over year. Oh well Heath and Project LIFT will be just fine I guess. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

8:55 am ...... we have a younger child and a teenager and still like the early bell. Gives the kids time to get homework done before practices begin in the evening hours.

Not everyone is against early bells. To each their own.

Anonymous said...

We took our boys out of CMS due to the 7;15 morning bell schedule. They are doing great and get an extra 5 hours of sleep a week.

Anonymous said...

My kids are grown and gone but it makes more sense to push the teenagers to a later time and the younger ones to an earlier time. this is due to the physical changes with teens and the fact that most are doing technology at bedtime. This is just the way it is nowadays, unfortunately.

Daddy daycare said...

If you were going to run a school district, what time would you set as a reasonable, sensible high school start time?

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and there was a noticeable, positive difference in my high school students on the days with the 2 hour delay. They were responsive, happy, and alert. Even they noticed and commented on how they felt.

I see the affects of lack of sleep with my students on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

and to Daddy daycare, no I would not start the schools at 7:15am. I would not start any school before 7:45am. But I'm not in charge.

Todd said...

CMS will tell you that school start and end times are based on the number of students it transports on a daily basis.

The CMS website states the average (?) number of students assigned to buses is 123,000, but we know that the actual number of bus riders is much lower, more like 65,000-70,000. So the system is built on faulty numbers and assumptions that ALL the assigned riders will actually ride the bus.

As we all know, most buses are at 50% capacity or less and that many students drive themselves, or parents are carpooling. With 955 buses in the fleet, that would mean an "actual" average of about 73 students transported per bus every morning and afternoon. That's with buses running to 2-4 schools each. Those numbers need to be looked at, very inefficient.

Yet they dictate the school start and end times. The bell schedule Task Force needs to look more closely at what they are hearing from CMS.

Anonymous said...

12:47 Anon, You mean you actually think that CMS would "bake or fudge" the data in their favor? You know they would pass the blame to the state or county since they could do no wrong. Imagine (school closings) CMS making a bad decision I have never seen one (changing neighborhood school zones) never I say never (Gorman). Okay thats enough silly data points. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Many high schools offer staggered entry classes, when only a few students would have to be at school at 7am for first period. That is an option worth considering.

mary said...

what do teachers think about the additional 45 minutes of the elementary day? Is it helpful, has it been beneficial to the students? The only ones who can answer these questions are the ones on the front lines- the teachers.

The Champion said...

CMS, what is the actual number of bus riders, not the assigned number of bus riders?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about the later schedule. It has solved my after school care so I am happy about that. My vote would be to continue the 9:15-4;15 schedule.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I don't like the added 45 minutes to the Elementary Scholol day. Our school changed from an 8:30 start to 7:45 start. Students are tired, tardy, and check out by the end of the longer day.

Anonymous said...

4:03 Anon , Its not about your pocketbook its about kids going to school at 9:15 and getting home at 5:30. Stop the selfish attitude and think about the world in general. How successful is a business executive that goes to work at 9:15 and takes days off when the temp is below 25 degrees? This generally is someone maybe working for 30k at a hotel front desk or 20k slicing a bagel.
This is not what I received from public education and not what I want my children to be taught. Keith W. Hurley

Susan Plaza said...

The current task force is working to find solutions for 2014/15. Ann Clark made it clear that it is possible to make positive changes for the upcoming school year. We are not working with a goal of 2015/16. Change needs to happen now!

Anonymous said...

All these pro-late start emails sound the same. Could it be the same person writing multiple emails?

Anonymous said...

Sleep deprivation is widespread amongst the CMS student population and some here seem to want their children on adult schedules that studies show are harmful to their very health and welfare.

Wake up people!! Your kids will be on an early morning schedule soon enough. Quit trying to make this sound as though it's about them and what you want for them, when it's really all about you and your work schedule!!

Shamash said...

I used to schedule my college classes so they didn't start before 10am and it didn't hurt me.

A lot of people have jobs that require them to work shifts, such as in a hospital, so it isn't just bagel slicers who have later hours.

Not everyone gets to work "bankers hours", even if they work for a bank.

For decades I had to change shifts to work in computer support as well and be on call for nights and weekends.

It's just the nature of some jobs.

We don't have to follow the sun for our workday any longer.

But if you're in school, then if a later schedule helps you get better sleep and is healthier, then why not?

Save all the stress for when you're getting paid.

Susan Plaza said...

SHamash,
I agree with you and other posters about later schedules. It is great for older students. It is not healthy for 5, 6, 7 year old children to get home from school at 5:30. Young children go to bed early and naturally wake up around 6:30 or 7:00. It is the opposite for teens. We are looking for age appropriate schedules and we want our children to have teachers with sufficient planning time.

Anonymous said...

Susan Plaza,

Please clarify what "sufficient planning time" means to you?

I ask, b/c every time I turn around it seems CMS has another "teacher work day"....

Susan Plaza said...

Sufficient planning time for teachers is 45 minutes per day. Middle and high teachers generally have one 90 minute block for planning daily. Elementary teachers have 20-30 4 to 5 days per week. They lost 45 minutes when the extended day was implemented. I beleive there are 10 teacher workdays each year, used for entering grades at the end of each quarter as well as for required inservice. Work days are generally not able to be used for planning.

Anonymous said...

Teachers also have an hour after school to get paperwork done. I see value in the added 45 minutes to the school day especially with the new common core standards.

Anonymous said...

Susan plaza, I could not attend the Thursday meeting due to work. Please let the committee know that there are 1000's (if not all) of high school students hoping that the morning schedule gets changed.

Anonymous said...

from Seattle paper yesterday - finally school systems are getting this concept.

"Most sleep experts agree that teenagers need a few extra hours in the morning to be productive in school, but most high schools, including those in Seattle, start their classes early in the morning while younger kids start later.
The Seattle School Board president is pushing to flip those starting times to give students the best chance of succeeding".

Charlotte native said...

Response to 8:09 AM No, elementary teachers do not have an hour built into the work day after school. Students arrive at 7:10 and the last bus leaves at 3:05. Our planning time consist of 30 to 40 minutes four times a week if we're lucky.

Carol S. said...

Charlotte Native, what do you do in your classroom after all the students have left? The teachers at my school stay until at least 3:45pm doing class work, correcting papers and preparing for the next day's class.

Susan Plaza said...

Elementary teachers used to have time built into the end of the day for planning. That 45 minutes was converted to instructional time in 2011. Elementary teachers are required to begin teaching 30 minutes before the bell and stay on the bus lot for 30 minutes after. Their 8 hour day includes 20-40 minutes of planning 4 days per week. Middle and high teachers have a 7 hour instructional day with additional duty time before and after the bells, generally 7.5 hours total. This day includes 80-90 minutes of planning every day. Elementary teachers need more planning time.

Candy Cane said...

Susan Plaza, the teachers do not stay on the bus lot for 30 minutes after school, that is incorrect. It is the teacher assistants and Specials teachers that help with loading the elem students. The grade level teachers are in their classrooms planning for the next day for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours after school. The teachers have plenty of time to plan, especially this year with all the extra snow time off!

Susan Plaza said...

Candy Cane, what school do you teach at? At my school the teachers man the bus lot and carpool line. Teachers take kids to the bus lot, assistants take kids to car pool. If teachers stay for 45-90 minutes after all students leave, they would be at school until 6:00pm.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, I work at an elem school in the south charlotte area. Our assistants do both the carpool and the bus lot, along with our specials teachers. The grade level teachers go back to the classroom after walking class to bus lot. That is how it is done at our school, very efficient and we have time for planning at the end of the day.