Montgomery County School Board discusses school start times while parents protest

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - As the Montgomery County School Board met Tuesday to discuss the superintendents recommendation to not change class start and end times, dozens of parents and students arrived with signs in hand and pajamas on, to protest Superintendent Joshua Starr's change of heart.

"I'm sick of waking up at 6:30," said seventh-grader Tina Karpatkin at the protest, who said that, with homework and extracurricular activities, she can't get to bed any earlier than 11 p.m.

"Dr. Starr could come up with more than one way to make this happen," said parent Ellen Crupi.

Starr had previously recommended pushing back start times by 50 minutes for high schools and 10 minutes for middle schools, and extending the elementary school day by 30 minutes.

However, Starr went back on his recommendation after receiving the results of a study he had asked district staff to prepare on the feasibility and costs of implementing the plan, as well as what the extra school time would be used for.

The report indicated costs would, at minimum, be more than $21 million - much of which would be required for more school buses to accommodate later start times - and could reach as high as $145 million.

Starr said such costs were not "fiscally responsible" at a time when the school district is experiencing "persistent gaps" between funding and budgets.

Starr says he will leave the door open for future consideration - but added that part of the reason he changed his recommendation is because 50 percent of high-school students polled didn't want the time change to begin with.

Many parents at the rally Tuesday said they aren't satisfied with the answer, however.

"We believe in the science of sleep apnea," said parent Katie Spurlock.

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