A lot of parents would love to have all schools, from elementary to high, begin around 8:30 a.m.
That's not going to happen anytime soon in Wake. But as noted in today's article, Wake is looking into allowing a few high schools to open later, possibly around 8:30 a.m., as a means to boost academic performance.
Groups such as the National Sleep Foundation have been touting for years the benefits of starting high schools later in the day to give teens the opportunity to get more sleep.
Head said the idea, which was brought up at last week's facilities committee meeting, would be to make a later start time available to high schools that aren't doing as well academically.
Staff is looking at the ramifications to bell schedules if a few schools change. The problem could be that since Wake, like a lot of school districts, runs a multi-tiered bus routing system that changes to high schools could force some elementary schools to start earlier.
Under Wake's three-tiered bus system, buses typically run multiple routes in the morning and afternoon, serving high schools and elementary schools or middle schools. This allows Wake to save money by not having to buy as many buses.
A lot of parents aren't enamored with the three-tiered system. But Head said they have to stick with it, especially with the current economy limiting the number of buses that can be bought.
"Everybody would like to have an 8:30 schedule," Head said. "But we can't do it."
If any of this talk sounds familiar, Wake had looked in 2004 at flipping around the tiers. They would have put most of the high schools on the third tier and moved a lot of elementary schools to the first tier. It died after elementary parents objected.
Staff is already working on 2009-10 bell schedules so it's uncertain whether they'd be able to shift some high schools this late in the process. Click here for the 2008-09 bell schedule.