SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Some families are pushing back on a plan to change the start times for some elementary schools in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System. They say the later start times will make it harder for working parents and their children.
After more than a year of adapting to difficult situations, Miki Skelton said this is another hurdle she and many other families are facing.
“I’m a single mom,” Skelton said. “I’ve had to take another job in Hilton Head where I commute over an hour and a half to work every day due to the fact that I lost my position in Savannah after having to stay home and homeschool my son over the last year.”
Elizabeth Acey, a parent who has two children in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, said there’s a growing list of community members vocalizing concerns over the time changes: “I know a lot of teachers and parents are not for these changes.”
Several SCCPSS parents told News 3 they’re asking the school board to reconsider pushing back bell times for Heard, May Howard, Marshpoint, and Jacob G. Smith elementary schools.
“He’ll be in care for two hours prior to school even starting,” Skelton described, explaining how the time change will force her to seek additional child care.
Families said they believe moving the start and release times back about an hour will impact their jobs — and their kids’ lives — in a major way.
“I don’t want to pull my kid out of an after-school activity that they love just because we can’t get there,” Acey said.
“Do we just sacrifice after-school activities altogether? Which I think is a real travesty given that in a lot of cases that is the only consistency these kids have had the last year,” Skelton added. “They teach self-confidence, they teach time management, and they mean scholarships for a lot of kids later on when they apply to college.”
School leaders said these changes will match other existing school bell times.
“With the addition of these four schools, this will place all of our elementary schools in that 9 a.m. or 9:15 start time,” Tammy Perkins Senior Director for SCCPSS Transportation explained.
Perkins said the schedule will be more efficient for their more than 250 bus drivers.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve our transportation system and this was a good opportunity to take advantage of that.”
District officials said the buses are also following strict sanitizing measures through the summer into the fall. More specific guidelines on what classrooms will look like this fall are expected in the coming weeks.