Here’s what you need to know about changes to school start times in Virginia Beach

(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Starting nearly four years ago the School Board here has been undergoing the extensive process of redesigning school starting schedules for elementary, middle and high schools.

During their annual workshop meeting, the School Board was presented with the results of the surveys given to the public and the administrative recommendation for the proposed time table.

The board will vote on the new start and end times during the second October 2019 meeting with the new timetable starting in September 2020.

Background

So far there have been two surveys put out by the school district and in November 2018 an official resolution was passed to change school start times.

School officials were able to make the determination to change school start times based on industry research done by medical professionals and public feedback via surveys and community meetings.

Four options were given to the community to vote on, all with differing start and end times for elementary, middle and high schools.

To see original survey and other options, click here.

Costs associated with those time changes are for field lights for after-school sports and transportation.

The biggest challenge the School Board and the administration seem to come up against is getting the transportation timetable sorted in a way that best works for everyone.

In addition to those concerns debated by the School Board, members were concerned about elementary school children standing at bus stops in the dark, high school students having their after-school work schedules interrupted and students needing to get to school early anyways for clubs.

Roughly 19,000 responses were recorded through the survey which was considered a particularly robust response, said Daniel Keever, senior executive director of high schools and presenter for the school start times discussion.

Across the board parents, students and staff did agree a later starting time could have a positive impact on sleep and health, according to data from the survey.

Administration’s recommendation

After surveying and then hosting meetings with staff members, the administration was able to come up with a recommended school start time schedule.

One thing to note here is elementary schools are divided up into two different release and start schedules.

The starting goal of elementary A schools would be a 7:40 a.m. start and the dismissal goal of high school would be around 4 p.m.

Elementary B school and middle school starting times are still in progress and the time table is subject to change.

There would be a one-time cost of approximately $2.5 million for high school field lights with this recommendation.

Again, transportation scheduling remains the biggest hurdle in the planning process based on commentary from the School Board and David Pace, head of transportation.

RELATED STORY: Virginia Beach students will be starting school later as soon as 2020

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