High school students in Columbia Public Schools will begin school a bit later in the upcoming school year.
Columbia's Board of Education voted 6 to 1 to approved a new three-tier transportation system, which will stagger school start times for the upcoming school year.
All middle schools, as well as seven of the district's elementary schools, will begin school at 7:20 a.m. The remaining elementary schools will begin at 8:20 a.m., and high schools will start at 9 a.m.
All seven members of the board including board President Dr. Tom Rose said they support the decision to adopt the new schedule.
“I think reality may play out differently then what all the concerns that are there, you know as far as parents having to adjust their schedules and making things work out," Rose said.
The new school schedule has been a topic of discussion in the past months, and the new system still leaves some parents, like Angela Speck, uneasy about the safety of their younger students.
“For the seven that end up starting before 8 o’clock in the morning — that’s a really big change," Speck said. "I think it does present some issues for kids riding the bus because, like this morning, they would have been getting on the bus in the dark."
Some parents also raised concerns about how this would affect after school activities, but members of the board, including Dr. Tom Rose, are confident it will be feasible.
“I think what we are going to see, hopefully, is just a lot of the people that are involved with those activities, meaning the coaches and the sponsors, will figure out how it can work into their system," Rose said, suggesting activities could change practice times.
Board members and high school principals alike say they are confident that their coaching staff will work to make the extracurricular activities available to all students.
With the new school schedule, practices before school are now more convenient. The new schedule will be placed in effect in the fall of the coming 2013-14 school year for CPS.