Prince George's County is merging its bus routes, and for some middle school students, that will mean an extra 40 minutes per day in the classroom.
By August, the buses will be driving fewer routes—for some middle school students, that will mean a longer school day to accommodate staggered school schedules.
"We already have to get up early for school! We don't want to have to stay there longer!" said sixth grader Jared Callier of Upper Marlboro.
The new plan will save $5 million per year in busing costs. The county schools already have a six hour and 40 minute day. Adding an extra 40 minutes of class time will extend it to seven hours and 20 minutes.
"There's just not enough time to address some of the remedial needs of some of our students, especially in the areas of math and science,” said school Superintendent Dr. William Hite Jr.
But, Kenneth Haines, President of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, says extra class time should help students' weak spots.
“Our problem is that our middle schools are turnaround schools, very low performing schools, and we couldn't justify having shorter instructional days for schools that weren't coming up to state standards,” Haines said.
It will also mean some middle school students will be riding the bus with high school students. And that has some parents at James Madison Middle School wondering if that's really a good idea.
“You just open up a whole can of worms. Older kids picking on younger kids, bullying, it's just not a good idea,” said Upper Marlboro parent Theodore Blunt.
The County hopes older students will act as role models. They say the extra time and shared buses will offer a brand new opportunity for students' development.?