Michael Calhoun

CHESTERFIELD (KMOX) – Parkway School Board members, in the face of heated criticism, are moving forward with plans to change school starting-and-ending times.

The adjustments are actually a revision to changes enacted at the start of this school year. Buses haven’t been able to keep up with the new schedule, leaving students late for class.

Students, parents and teachers lined up to speak their peace before Wednesday night’s vote, and their biggest concern was the rolling back of the first bell at the high schools.

Classes are to begin 25 minutes earlier than they did last year.

“Your teachers are saying, already, that kids are sleeping in class,” parent Mark Dunlop declared. “Your teachers are already saying we’ve got an issue here.”

Some of the students cited case studies from other districts, but didn’t get any sympathy from board member Bruce Major.

“I can Google right now, and come up with research that will say just about anything,” Major stated. “This isn’t an open debate,” and logistics and finances must be taken into account, he said.

Parents expressed concern that their teenagers already don’t get home from school-sponsored activities until 9 or 10 p.m., with homework still to complete. Requiring them to wake earlier, especially for before-sch0ol activities, would leave them burning the candle at both ends, they said.

Alex Pinder, a senior at Parkway Central High School, said that he had collected 538 signatures on a petition opposing the changes.

At the same time, parents with children in elementary school had disapproving words for a schedule which would have their students getting out of school later than before.

Board member Helen Casteel suggested holding off on any changes, so the board could digest all of the comments, but was overruled.

“It is absolutely impossible to make everyone happy,” board member Beth Feldman said before the vote.

The changes, detailed here, will take effect on October 17th.

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