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Students angry over new bell schedule at Northwest School of the Arts

A handful of parents and students spoke out against the later start time at Northwest School of the Arts during last night's CMS Board of Education meeting. WFAE's Simone Orendain reports: As a cost-cutting measure, the board last month voted to give Northwest School of the Arts a 9:15 starting time. Students at the magnet school live all over Mecklenburg county. Changing the bell schedule helps trim $600,000 from next year's transportation budget. But the teenagers who showed up at the school board meeting last night weren't exactly thrilled to have two extra hours to sleep-in. Kilee Price told the board having a late day would curtail outside activities. She said, "For a student who lives in Matthews it might take an hour and a half to get home. With two hours of homework, how do you expect them to eat, play sports or have a job? Most upper classmen have or need a job. After school employment starts around 3:00, we get out at 4:15." Price argues students need jobs to pay for extra materials that are required for school. And she says the schedule hurts her chances of trying for a swimming scholarship because practice with the team she swims for starts at 2:30. Board Chair Molly Griffin says she's concerned about the points the students raised. She says the district will try to look at students' schedules. "First of all I was impressed with how well they spoke and made their points very clear. At this point, I don't think we're going to be able to change the hours but I do hope we're going to be very flexible with individual children," says Griffin. Parents also said that in the entire district, the school was being singled out for the schedule change. Superintendent Peter Gorman says it's very expensive to transport students from throughout the county to a single magnet program. JT Williams Middle is the only other school that will be affected by a bell schedule change to save on transportation. Classes there will start an hour earlier, at 8:00.