Guilford Debates Changing School Start Times

Dozens of parents showed up to a Guilford Board of Education meeting Wednesday to speak about the potential impact of a plan to change the start and end times of the school day.

“I really question whether those 15 minutes are really going to offer our kids the benefit that these studies suggest,” one parent argued.

The Guilford Board of Education is debating changing the start and end times. The town has been mulling over the issue for several years now, but formally decided to revisit it this year with the convening of a taskforce to consider how later starts to the day would improve student performance, particularly at the high school level. Under the considered plan, the first bell at the high school would move from 7:25 to 7:40 a.m.

“What the Board of Education is trying to do right now is to try to balance the benefits and impacts and try to do what we believe is in the best interest of all of the students in the Guilford Public Schools,” explained Guilford Board of Education Chairman William Bloss. “We are not here to sell you anything tonight. We are not here to educate you tonight. We are here to listen to you tonight. This is your evening.”

Opinion from all who took the podium was mixed.

"Those 10 additional minutes added onto an already long and grueling day in ES can have a significant impact on our youngest student population," one speaker said.

"It seems unbelievable to me that we’re not considering swapping elementary school and high school," another said.

A lack of consensus years ago is the reason the board said the idea didn’t move forward when it was first considered, but school leaders said for now, the conversation is continuing.

“The purpose of this meeting is for the BOE to hear from the community on the large topic before they make a specific decision or a specific proposal on how to move forward,” said Dr. Paul Freeman, the superintendent of Guilford Public Schools.

There was no vote Wednesday, and no vote scheduled. The task force studying the issue is set to meet again in the near future. The board said in the event they decide to move forward on any changes in start times for the upcoming school year, they’d likely vote before the current one ends.

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