Belcher has new proposal for Columbia school start times

Feb 11, 2013

At the Columbia Board of Education meeting tonight, Superintendent Chris Belcher is expected to propose a new plan for school start times.

Instead of high school students starting first at 7:20am, like in previous proposals, Belcher is recommending they begin at 9:00am after the elementary and middle schools. He says research supports his proposal.

“We know that most of our teenagers are   staying up late and then they have to get up early for school. The teachers will tell you that there’s not a lot of real active and alert kids at the 8 o’ clock class. The research is telling us you can see some improved academic achievement by simply changing the cycle,” Belcher said.

Belcher wants the change in effect for the next school year, starting August 2013.

“The bottom line is we have to make a decision and that’s what I’m recommending to the board to look at tonight, but not to take action until the March board meeting,” Belcher said.

School board member Christine King chairs the transportation committee. She says starting the change in August might be too soon.

“Is it possible to keep the order the same for next year to maybe better plan the scheduling piece of this? I just don’t know if we’ve given everyone enough time,” Belcher said.

King says she needs to make sure the leaders have had enough time to make the scheduling changes before she votes in favor of Belcher’s proposal.