The Charleston County School District is offering a compromise plan to move up the school day at six middle schools to appease parents of elementary school students who opposed the change because it meant an earlier day for younger children.
The six new options offer various scheduling scenarios that would allow Haut Gap, Northwoods, Morningside, West Ashley, Zucker and C.E. Williams middle schools to begin earlier than their current start times of between 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
The district is recommending an option that would start the West Ashley and Johns Island middle schools at 7:30 a.m. and dismiss at 2:30 p.m. The North Charleston middle schools would begin at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m.
The district revamped its proposal to address the late start and dismissal times at the six middle schools after parents of elementary school students complained that a previous plan to start the younger students’ school day at 7:15 a.m. was too early.
Under the new plan, elementary schools in West Ashley and Johns Island would begin at 8:30 a.m. North Charleston elementary schools would start at 7:30 a.m. High schools in North Charleston would start at 8:30 a.m., while St. John’s and West Ashley high schools would begin between 7:15 a.m. and 7:20 a.m.
According to the proposal, middle and high school students attending St. John’s High and Haut Gap Middle would ride the same bus.
The new schedule would require the addition of around 60 new buses and drivers at a cost of around $3 million. A portion of a proposed tax rate increase for school operations would fund the new buses and drivers.
Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby has recommended the district implement the new bell times in the second semester of the upcoming school year over concerns the additional buses and drivers won’t be ready when school starts in August.
The school board is scheduled to vote on the bell times plan at its meeting on Monday.