DD2 proposes change to bell schedules

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) -- Dorchester District 2 leaders proposed a change to the bell schedule at its schools to cut down on the amount of time some students spend waiting for the school day to begin.DD2 principals presented the plan at Monday night's Board of Education hearing, and asked for the help of the Board of Trustees to share the new plan with the schools' communities.The plan was developed out of the need to resolve long waits for some high school students who sometimes wait more than an hour for the school day to start. Superintendent Joseph Pye referenced the research and national trends regarding start times for older students."The research tells us clearly that adolescents and teens are more ready to learn when they have had adequate rest and a later start to the school day. The proposal will provide more than two additional hours for students to prepare for an engaging academic experience. It's really a more efficient approach to schooling," Pye said. Elementary CurrentProposedMiddle CurrentProposedHigh CurrentProposedBus Drop Off7 a.m.7 a.m.8 a.m.8 a.m.6:15 a.m.9 a.m.School Start Time7:25 a.m.{}7:15 a.m.8:30 a.m.8:15 a.m.7:25 a.m.9:15 a.m.School End Time2:10 p.m.2:15 p.m.4 p.m.3:15 p.m.2:55 p.m.4:15 p.m."High school students their brains don't wake until later in the day. And so when they're starting classes at 7:25 [a.m.], they're not quite as alert at that time, whereas our younger kids are more alert early in the morning," said Elena Furnari, Director of High Schools for DD2.She cites research that proves teenagers who sleep a little later in the morning are able to learn better. {}That's one of the reasons school officials are considering the plan. {}District leaders also said the change to the bell schedule would improve the transportation schedule. Officials said the current bus schedule allows for only 45 minutes for buses to get students to school and get the next grade's routes. That problem is made worse by the lack on state-provided buses and the growing numbers of students in the district, officials said Monday night.The new proposal claims to increase the transition time between grade levels while addressing the largest population of riders, elementary students, exclusively and first."With this plan there would be an hour between each start time for the schools and dismissal times, giving our bus system an extra fifteen minutes to run those routes to hopefully pickup student on time and deliver them to school on time," said Furnari.Assistant Superintendent, Linda Huffman highlighted the new schedule's potential impact on bus-related issues."Having an entire hour to transition between grade levels will certainly reduce the number of late buses at each site. Elementary students will be served exclusively by the entire fleet of buses which should enhance productivity while decreasing traffic in our community."Now district leaders are looking for feedback on the proposed plan.Some students who attend Summerville High Schools said they have different opinions about the proposal.{}"I think that might be good simply because students aren't really fully awake for first period. So I don't think they get much out of it," said Matthew Davenport.{}"I can come to school, do my school work, go ahead and finish what I gotta do throughout the day versus me coming to school later," said Timica Simmons, a junior who attends Summerville High School.Community feedback will be gathered over the next two weeks and a final proposal will be shared with Trustees before school ends.District approves end of school scheduleAlso on Monday night, the DD2 board approved the end of school schedule to make up for inclement weather days. The final make-up days will be held June 2 and 3. The following schedule will be followed for the two remaining make-up days:Friday, May 30 will be a half day for studentsMonday, June 2 will be a half day for studentsTuesday, June 3 will be a half day for studentsJune 3 will also be the last day for teachers. The dismissal schedule for the last three days will be as follows:Givhans Alternative Program at 9:30 a.m.Elementary Schools at 10:30 a.m.High Schools at 11:30 a.m.Middle Schools at 12:30 p.m.Rollings Middle School of the Arts at noon