After months of community meetings and a half-dozen school board work sessions, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Garza is finally ready to formally recommend a new bell schedule for the system. Garza will present the changes to the school board on Thursday, and the board will vote on it in October.
The new schedule, aimed at letting teenagers get more sleep, will have high schools starting between 8 and 8:10 a.m. (formerly 7:20 a.m.) and middle schools starting at 7:30 a.m. (formerly 8 a.m.). The changes would go into effect in 2015-16.
The majority of elementary schools will start about the same time as they do this year.
The Fairfax County School Board adopted a resolution in April 2012 to seek solutions to establish high school start times at 8 a.m. or later. It later hired experts from Children’s National Medical Center to develop a proposal and options towards that goal.
The experts said teens are chronically lacking in sleep and changing the start times would help their academic performance as well as physical and mental health.
However, the proposed bell schedule has one group of teens — the youngest ones, in middle school — actually starting school a half hour earlier, though Garza has said her goal is to work towards eventually moving middle school bells to after 8 a.m.
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Photo: FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza/File photo