Brunswick’s secondary schools will open early on staggered start schedule

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By Brian Slattery

Middle and high school students will have to set their alarms an hour earlier next school year.

Brunswick County School board members voted 3-2 at their meeting Tuesday night to send secondary students, grades 6-12, to school before elementary students when the school system returns to a staggered start schedule in the fall.

Brunswick County School officials agreed in January to pay to add nine permanent school resource officers in elementary schools, and the school board decided to cover those costs by returning to staggered start times for elementary, middle and high schools.

The nine elementary resource officers add $497,000 annually to the school budget and staff plans to add $1.8 million in additional cameras, electronic locks and fences.

Re-instating staggered school hours is expected to generate an estimated $1 million in savings to offset expenses, Superintendent Edward Pruden said.

Staggered school start times allow Brunswick County schools to run a set of buses on dual routes, first to pick up secondary school students, then to pick up elementary school students.

The dual routes increased Brunswick County’s transportation efficiency in the eyes of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, which reimburses school system transportation costs based on efficiency percentage.

The school board members’ decision will send high school students to school earliest, from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Three middle schools will run from 7:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. Shallotte Middle School will be delayed to 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Elementary schools will start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.

Brunswick County Academy and the Early College High School start time will not change in 2013-14.

School board chairman Charles Miller previously directed staff to conduct a survey of staff members and families served by the school system to find out which is the preferred scheduling option.

School officials presented the results of the staggered schedule survey Tuesday night.

The school system sent 7,697 surveys to parents; 2,298 were returned, a 30 percent response.

Parent survey results say 54 percent want secondary schools to start first. That’s 1,242 responses for early start for middle and high school students, over the 46 percent, 1,056 responses, in favor of elementary school starting school first.

Staff surveys were sent to 1,917 employees. Staff returned 1,376, a 72 percent response.

Staff results were in line with the parents, 53 percent voted for secondary schools to start earlier than elementary schools.

The actual numbers showed 728 staffers voted for secondary school early start times, compared to 648 staff votes, 47 percent, for elementary school early starts.


Parent response breakdown

Parent responses indicated 40 percent, 790 of the parents who responded, have children in elementary school.

Of the elementary school-only parents, 69 percent voted for their elementary schoolers to start the school day first.

Another 738 respondents, 37 percent, have children in secondary school. Of the middle and high school parents, 78 percent voted for their children to start school first.

The remaining 23 percent, 469 respondents, have children in both levels of school. They chose sending secondary school students early by 59 percent.

The school system received 301 parent surveys that did not indicate what school level their children were in.


School staff response breakdown

Elementary school staff sent in 561 responses, with 77 percent voting for elementary schools to open first.

Secondary school staff returned 550 responses, with 78 percent voting for secondary schools to start early.

The central office staff returned 194 surveys. The staffers chose secondary schools to open first by 56 percent of the responses.


Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.