Parents Voice Concerns Over Proposed School Start Time Changes

Peoria Public Schools is considering the change for next school year

PEORIA, Ill. -

Less than 24 hours after a proposal to change the start times at Peoria Public Schools is announced, parents are voicing concerns about the potential move.

The district says the change is a necessary solution to its transportation budget challenges.

A survey went out to collect feedback from families in the district last night and more than 1,400 people responded in a matter of hours.

Many parents say the change will complicate their routine and they have a lot of questions.

"It's gonna make the mornings a little challenging." Peoria Public Schools Parent, Casey Messenger, said.

Messenger has a fourth grader and a freshman in high school. She says changes to the school schedule would throw off the routine in their home.

"Currently my elementary child goes to before school care around 7:30 in the morning so I can get to work now. Next year, she'll be at Washington Gifted and that doesn't start until 9:10 ...I'm not sure what I'm going do with her until then.” Messenger said.

This district currently has two start times; 7:30AM and 8:30AM. The proposed change would create a three tiered system with most elementary school students starting at 7:20AM, high schoolers starting at 8:15AM and middle schoolers starting at 9:10AM. The district says the switch aligns with research that older students perform better in school with later start times.

But parents don't know if the benefits outweigh the costs.

"If the child's just going home and getting off the bus without parents that's a little scary." Messenger said.

But, the district's chief financial officer says the change is a small price for huge savings.

"Going from 2 tier to 3 tier basically allow us to serve the number of students in the same way at just a little bit different time and achieve over a million dollar worth of savings." Peoria Public Schools CFO, Mick Willis, said.

Peoria Public Schools has a $1.4 million dollar gap between what it spends on transportation and what it receives.

"The only alternatives would involve less service to students." Wills said.

Still, parents say they have questions before giving changes the green light.

"I'm sure it's a problem but I'm not sure if it's more effective to get these children home really early and leave them in an unsafe situation." Messenger said.

The proposal will be brought to the school board Monday night. If approved, the changes could be put in place as soon as next school year. 


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