Before a packed house, the Galveston Independent School District board of trustees settled on a daily schedule for next year that includes an earlier start time for elementary-aged children and a later one for secondary students.
Under the new schedule, elementary students would begin school at 7:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. each day. Secondary students would begin at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.
Crenshaw Elementary and Middle School would be given special consideration and would be allowed to start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m., Superintendent Kelli Moulton said.
The decision comes after parents, community members and even some educators voiced concerns about a proposal listed on the agenda.
“The elementary principals wanted to come together and voice some concern about the times we are all trying to make a decision on,” said Liz Murphy, principal of Parker Elementary School, in open comments at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
“With elementary releasing at a later time, 3:45 p.m., I want to point out that while one good thing is the day is shorter by 15 minutes, students get home later. This is a concern when we hit daylight saving time as far as kids getting home when it’s dark or starts getting dark.”
If trustees had approved ending later and starting later, principals would have another issue in that parents would still need to drop younger kids off before work and it would require additional staff and faculty to watch students in the mornings, Murphy said.
The proposal listed on Wednesday’s agenda called for trustees to accept a schedule that would have middle school and high school students start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. and elementary students start at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.
Parents told trustees that older students needed more sleep and would be able to take themselves to school, while younger children needed to start earlier and end earlier because of the parents’ work schedules.
District officials told trustees that the recommended proposal was chosen based upon a slight majority of parent respondents claiming it was the better of two proposals.
Wednesday’s vote for next school year ends the practice of having six different start and end times for district campuses.