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Teachers visit Raleigh to learn about Wake County’s staggered school system

After voicing their concern about the staggered start time proposal during a recent school board meeting, South Stanly High School teachers Meredith Howell and Teresa Bundy were invited to Raleigh to observe Wake County’s staggered school system.

Howell and Bundy are part of a staggered school task force Stanly County Schools set up.

The schedule of Wake’s elementary schools — in terms of what times subjects are taught and when lunch is held — differed from the other schools.

“We saw three different levels of scheduling,” Howell said. “Each school did it their own way.”

Bundy was impressed with one of the elementary schools, which broke down the school day into thirds. Students had before-school activities and then breakfast. Then they were in class and had a snack. After more class time, they had a 1 p.m. lunch and then finished up the day.

While many people tend to think of school days as before lunch and after lunch, the elementary school broke up the day to make it more manageable for younger students, Bundy said.

After their experience in Raleigh, Bundy and Howell are hopeful about bringing staggered school times to Stanly.

“I’m still nervous just because it’s a new schedule and it’s a change for me and for my family,” said Howell, who will have two children attending Aquadale Elementary next year. “But knowing that something is productively happening behind the scenes that is going to make it a working system eases many of my fears.

“When change comes, you don’t like it because you lose control of things, but this gives some control to a scary situation,” Howell added.

If the before- and after-school programs are productive times where the students are being engaged, it can be a positive, said Bundy, who will have a grandson attending Aquadale next year.

The Stanly County Board of Education passed a motion in early April in favor of having a 7:15 a.m. start time for four elementary schools next year and an 8:45 a.m. start time for six elementary schools.

SCS has schedules laid out for when staff would arrive in the morning and when doors would open for students to be dropped off for before-school care, SCS officials said.

Norwood Elementary, Badin Elementary, Endy Elementary and Locust Elementary would start at 7:15 a.m. and get out at 2:10 p.m.

At these early start schools, the doors would open at 6:45 a.m. and some form of academic enrichment would take place until school started at 7:15 a.m.

Richfield Elementary, Aquadale Elementary, East Albemarle Elementary, Central Elementary, Millingport Elementary and Stanfield Elementary would start at 8:45 a.m. and get out at 3:40 p.m.

At these later start schools, the doors would open at 7:30 a.m.

SCS is still engaged with community partners. Officials have met with the YMCA to see if the organization could help with before-school care in addition to its after-school care.

The staggered schools task force is also working on parental involvement and bus routes.

Each school’s staff will initially help with before- and after-school care, but SCS hopes to partner with community organizations, which would offer enrichment activities for the students.
Superintendent Dr. Jeff James said during a recent school board meeting SCS could provide around $50,000 for the enrichment programs.

SCS is in the process of surveying parents of students in the projected late start schools to find out the number of students that would need the before-school care. This will help to determine how much staff is needed in the morning.

Contact Chris Miller at 704-982-2122.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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