Are School Schedules Fair to Students, Parents?

Start times, dismissal times, bus routes and summer vacation. There are lots of factors that go into school schedules, and whenever school systems tinker with them, somebody ends up unhappy.

Several metro Atlanta school systems have been tackling the complicated issue of school schedules recently, treading into a topic that's sure to upset many parents.

The Atlanta Public School System recently decided to wait until March to design a calendar that not only meets state requirements and encourages attendance and achievement, but also considers the needs of families.

Transportation concerns are one of the main issues facing APS. At a recent Grady High School public forum, attendees were told that changing bus schedules and school start and end times would result in improved student safety, on-time arrival, breakfast participation and ride times for special needs students, as well as avoiding having to add 50 new buses.

DeKalb County's embattled school board made an unpopular decision last fall to shorten the summer break and adopt a so-called "balanced" schedule. The move was supported by most teachers but not popular with parents. Summer break was shortened by two weeks, with vacation days built into the fall and winter.

Classes under the new calendar begin for students on Aug. 5 and end on May 29, 2014.

The Decatur School System caught some flak when it changed the start times for its one high school and middle school, its 4/5 Academy and two elementary schools. Several bus routes were also adjusted.

What do you think about the start and end times for your local schools? Does your child's vacation schedule work for your family? Is there a better way to make schools run on a schedule that works for kids, parents and school employees? Tell us what you think in the comments area below.

Related Items:

APS Calendar Vote Pushed to March

APS Proposes Adjusted School Day Start and End Times for 2013-14

School Calendar Options Open for Public Comment

DeKalb School Board Chooses Calendar Opposed by Most Parents

DeKalb Schools Approve 'Balanced' Calendar

Decatur School Board OKs Later Start Time for Decatur High Next Year

Chris Murphy January 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Research that is out there does not conclusively point to one calendar or another as having a better academic effect. That said, the states that truly do have a "traditional" calendar- i.e., start around Labor Day, end after Memorial Day, much less frequent days and/or weeks off in between- lead the nation in all measures of academic achievement.
Dawn Forman January 26, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Decatur Mom, we don't have children for our convenience. Public schools are not here for a parent's convenience. They are set up to educate children. As a tax payer and parent, I want them to use best practices that show good results time and time again. Sadly too many schools here fly by the seat of their pants do what is best for those in charge, and this has nothing to do what is best for the children and their learning. Most schools up North have a September-June schedule and are far superior than even the City of Decatur Schools.
M R Rao January 26, 2013 at 06:49 AM
Already, the authorities responsible for changes : parents, schools, government and other organizations have more than enough inputs with them. Review them all and obtain consent especially from the parents and speed up new calendar timings without compromising the SAFETY of children. Thanks
M R Rao January 26, 2013 at 06:51 AM
Take the opinions of all the parents, obtain consensus and expedite new calendar timings : parent friendly one ASAP
Decaturette January 27, 2013 at 07:08 AM
DF: Your point is? September to June sounds great especially for families who have relatives in the rest of the U.S. which has September to June schedules. It's the so-called "balanced", I call "interruptive", schedule that is not family-friendly.


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