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CMS To Weigh Late Schedules, But Long Days Likely To Stay

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools start and end times have made for some heated debate since the district added 45 minutes to the elementary school day.  Superintendent Heath Morrison says he’s not willing to shorten the day by much.

Two years ago, CMS officials lengthened the school day for elementary students to seven hours and pushed dismissals at many schools to 4:15.  With those adjustments one bus could serve more schools. 

The move saved CMS $4 million at a time of deep budget cuts.  But many parents have complained that the late schedules wear kids out and make it hard for them to fit in extracurricular activities and family time. 

Morrison says he’s willing to look at shifting schedules, but he won’t cut the school day for elementary students any more than 15 minutes.    

“I certainly appreciate the opportunity for the extended school day.  The additional time, I believe, is a benefit.  And so it is something I would not be very easily removed from,” says Morrison. 

Susan Plaza is a CMS parent who has long pushed the district to do away with the longer, later school days.  She says even 15 minutes would make a difference. 

“Some relief is better than no relief.  So it’s a step in the right direction,” says Plaza.

Morrison’s comments come after CMS released a study yesterday the district commissioned from the Council of the Great City Schools.  The group rounded up a handful of transportation directors from other districts to study some of the data around this matter. 

The report concludes the district’s estimated costs for adjusting the school calendar are based on sound numbers.  CMS has estimated it would cost at least $4 million to shift school schedules back 15 minutes at all schools with 4:15 dismissal times.

Morrison plans on creating another task force of parents, teachers and administrators to study the schedules and make recommendations in time for next school year.

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.