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Schools to start later, give parents staggered pick-up times

The start and end times for public schools in Colleton County could soon be changing.

The Colleton County School Board, and leaders with the Colleton County School District, are considering changing the times of the school day, allowing students to start their day later. The options will also stagger the start and end times of schools in the district.

Two options have been presented thus far: both options would start the school day at a later time.

Option One states that the Early Childhood Center start class at 7:30 a.m. and end at 1:55 p.m.

All elementary schools would start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m.

Under this option, the Colleton County Middle School would start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m., with Colleton County High School starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m.

Option Two would have The Early Childhood Center and all elementary schools start school at 7:45 and end at 2:20 p.m. Under this option, Colleton County Middle School would start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. Colleton County High School would start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.

Neighboring school districts have staggered start and end times, as well. Colleton County is currently the only county in the region that has all school starting and ending at the same time.

According to district officials, there are several reasons why the school times need to be changed.

In a public presentation, district leaders say students are having to board school buses as early as 5:30 a.m. This is creating safety concerns for children who are waiting at the school bus stops.

There is also an issue of the district’s ongoing school bus driver shortage. This school bus driver shortage is causing existing drivers to do several double runs: because of this, some students are forced to board the buses earlier than expected.

This is also causing some students to arrive home at 6 p.m. in the evening.

Additionally, district leaders say that changing the district’s start times will provide “better service,” and will give teachers “more planning and preparation time.”

Students will also have more time for after-school activities and for sports, as stated by the school district in a public presentation.

Before a decision is made, the school district’s leaders are asking for input from students, parents and district employees. An online survey has been open to the public, allowing them to give their input. The district has also been hosting a series of town hall meetings at area public schools. These meetings allowed the public to give their comments on the issue. Cut-off times for the district to receive public input was Tuesday, with the last town hall meeting held on March 19th at Hendersonville Elementary School. The school board is expected to make a decision on this issue in their upcoming April school board meeting.

The new approved start and end times will go into effect in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.

Heather Walters (1383 Posts)