CMS School Schedule Task Force would like to share the following update.
February 25th
To: PTA's, SLT's, and BOE members
From: Parents working with the CMS School Schedule Task Force
Subject: An Update on The School Schedule ('Late Bell) Task Force effort to Limit Late 4:15 pm Dismissals.

Since November a collaborative effort between CMS staff, teachers, parents, and health professionals has been under way within the newly formed School Schedule Task Force. The Goals of this Task Force are to: To assist CMS with the discovery and implementation of school schedules that optimize learning as well as support the broader developmental needs of children and adolescents, and to secondly seek short term economical solutions to limit school dismissals after 3:45 pm and restore planning time for CMS elementary teachers.

Over the last two years since CMS staff presented and received approval from the Board of Education to implement a broader range of school bell schedules involving the increase of the length of the elementary school day by 45 minutes to save some $4 Million in transportation costs, parents and teachers have been working to seek alternatives to reduce the negative impacts this has had on other developmental needs of children and our classrooms. Under NC State Statute 115c teacher planning time has been recognized since 2006 as needing to be protected from budget cuts with strong bipartisan support, and now with the 2011 changes has been reduced by ~50% for our elementary teachers for the regular school day. Approximately 40% of our bus fleet is delivering children home in the dark in rush hour traffic well after schools have locked their doors. At the request of community members the CMS Student Transportation Office has diligently investigated a wide range of suggested changes in school schedules to alleviate perceived impacts. Up to this February some 11 different specific alternative models had been investigated all with increasing negative budgetary consequences. From March of 2012 to November of 2012 the projected costs to limit school dismissals after 3:45 pm, and return at least 30 minutes of the lost planning time to our elementary teachers rose progressively from $4 to $12 Million. This growing fiscal 'Wall of China' barring any solution that could win approval with the Board of Education may now have been breached by our collaborative Task Force.

The combined efforts of community representative Dr. Randy Forsythe and Mr. Kevin Devore of CMS STO has led to the engineering of two additional transportation models involving only modest increases in fleet size, but with significant reductions in time and miles that can now eliminate all late bell dismissals and return 30 minutes of planning time to elementary teachers. While further operational and fiscal evaluations are underway, it is estimated that the costs range from a budget increase of $3 Million to a savings of approximately $1.5 Million. The solution in the former invoked efficiency savings by expansions of shuttle services and the networking of magnet schools to bring magnet transportation costs more in line with home school expenditures (a savings of some 50-75% of resources in this program), and in the latter combining the magnet program service changes with the reordering of High, Middle and Elementary School starting times across the district. The broad reordering of schools, follows newer developmental guidelines emerging nationwide for school age children and adolescents. A program that has found success in other North Carolina communities such as Cumberland, Forsyth, and Guilford Counties.

The School Schedule Task Force is hopeful of having theses two models ready for presentation to Dr. Morrison and the Board of Education within the next 30 days.