School board overturns school start time change

CHRISTIANSBURG — At its Tuesday meeting, the Montgomery County School Board voted unanimously to overturn the school start time changes that would have taken effect for the 2016-2017 school year.

Before the board voted, Superintendent Mark Miear and Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin both recommended repealing the new start times.

While many of the board members said start times should be changed to improve student performance, they said a lack of transparency with the previous school board’s decision was not fair to the public.

The board plans to reopen discussions on the starting times for elementary and secondary students in the near future, this time with increased community input.

The school board voted in April 2015 to change elementary and secondary school start times. Elementary students were set to begin school earlier at 8 a.m. and end their day at 2:30 p.m. Bus pickups would have begun as early as 7 a.m., which was the main cause for concern for many of the parents.

Middle and high school students would have gone to school later, from 8:50 a.m. to 3:35 p.m., with bus pickup times beginning at 7:40 a.m.

A research committee that had investigated the topic since October 2014 recommended the change as a way to cater to student sleep patterns and, as a result, improve performance.

— Sam Wall