Columbia Public Schools Considering New Start, End Times for Schools

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COLUMBIA - Columbia public schools could decide on a new school schedule this March.

The Columbia Public School Board met Monday night in front of a crowded room to discuss Bell Schedule One, which proposed these start and end times for elementary, middle, and high schoolers.

  • One group of elementary school students would start at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:40 p.m., and another group would start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m.
  • Middle school students would begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:35 p.m.
  • High school students would start the day at 9 a.m. and end at 4:05 p.m.

The school board heard from a student representative and another commenter, both of whom approved of the later start times for high school, citing sleep studies which approve of later start times for schools.

However, Dr. Chris Belcher of the school board says while sleep studies were taken into account when deciding start and end times, those studies are consistent for teenagers but not for middle and elementary school students. He also says while the plan is not perfect and people still have concerns, the concerns for this plan are less than the concerns for others.

Some parents are not fans of the new plan. One parent and small business owner, Doug Calhoun, says he wishes the school board would have listened to parents' concerns more than those of the students. He says with the new end times for high school classes, he would be less likely to hire high school students because they couldn't work as long each day.

The board will make their final decision in March.

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