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HISD rejects uniform start time

I must say, I’m glad to see this.

The Houston school board Thursday rejected a cost-cutting plan to change campus bell schedules next year after families complained about the disruption to their daily routines and their children’s sleep habits.

Objections from parents mounted weeks ago after Superintendent Terry Grier proposed standardizing school schedules as a way to save $1.2 million in busing costs amid a looming state funding shortfall.

Trustees agreed on the need to save money, but Grier couldn’t muster enough support for the plan, which would have changed the times that most schools start and end each day, by 45 minutes in some cases. The proposal failed on a 4-3 vote.

“We need to have a better process when we’re making decisions that affect all our schools throughout this district,” Trustee Anna Eastman said.

Grier, who didn’t speak in favor of the proposal Thursday night, has said that he knew some families would be upset, but it could save teaching jobs and help high school students who play sports or work in the afternoon. Under the plan, most high schools would have started earlier, at 7:45 a.m., allowing for an earlier release time.


HISD Trustee Larry Marshall, raising his voice in apparent frustration at his colleagues, urged them to approve the schedule changes, as they work to balance the district’s budget without raising taxes or dipping into savings.

“It’s time now for everyone to share the hurt,” Marshall said, adding that he had not received complaints from residents in his south Houston district. “We’re not about the business of offering convenience. We’re about the business of trying to maximize educational opportunities for our kids.”

I think everyone’s feeling plenty of hurt already, thanks. HISD can find this savings somewhere else. It can also try to do this again next year, perhaps with a plan that parents like a little more. At the very least, you can take the time to sell us on the idea a little more. As someone who was facing the prospect of having one kid starting school at 7:30 and another at 8:45 in a few years, I know I’ll need more convincing.

Trustees Eastman, Mike Lunceford, Harvin Moore and Juliet Stipeche opposed the schedule changes. Trustees Marshall, Greg Meyers and Paula Harris voted in favor of the plan. Trustees Carol Mims Galloway and Manuel Rodriguez Jr. had left the meeting by the time the vote was taken. She was absent for a funeral and he had an out-of-town education conference to attend.

I wonder what would have happened if Trustees Galloway and Rodriguez had been present for this vote. Feel free not to take another vote to find out. Hair Balls has more.

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One Comment

  1. mary t. says:

    This is excellent news! I was looking at a high schooler(attending zoned HS) and middle schooler(attending magnet requiring a 1 hour+ bus ride) trying to use the bathroom and be out the door at the same time in the morning–it would have made our mornings a living nightmare!