Laurel Ridge Elementary School (LRES) is due to have their start time changed from 8:50 to 9:10 starting in September 2012. This 20 minute difference will drastically change the quality of life for many families. With this time difference many people will be unable to keep their jobs, as it will have them arriving at their place of employment after 9am.
As if the time change at the start of school is not enough of a challenge for families of young children, after school is even more of an issue. With this time change LRES students will not be released until 3:50. LRES is primarily a walking district. A very small percentage of our students rely on a Fairfax County bus to transport them to and from school. Additionally, we are an immersion school, which also does not have the luxury of bus service, like the AAP schools do. We have parents that drive from the Clifton and South County districts to attend the immersion program at our school.
Even if you live in Kings Park West and drive your child to school in the morning, walking home will no longer be an option. In the winter months it will be close to dusk, and unsafe.
It was only 2 years ago that a lengthy, comprehensive, and expensive sleep study discussion went on concerning bell schedules. The sleep study focused on high school students, but the impact form/study/discussion allowed everyone to comment. An overwhelming majority of LRES parents participated in the study and said that a later bell time would negatively impact their family. If the high school bell schedule hasn’t changed, why has ours?
These are the youngest children in the school system. Realistically, they should get to school the earliest, because they go to bed the earliest. Many of them are not legally allowed to stay home alone for a period of time. This means they are the group that most heavily relies on their parents to get them to and from school.
As a country our children do not get enough exercise, this time change will allow for even less opportunity. As it is, there is little time between homework and dinner to play outside. This time change will allow fewer children to participate in organized activities (church, sports, county classes, etc.) as well.
Many of the families at LRES are currently dual income and working hard to keep up with the financial demands of this area. Homeowners have voted over and over again to raise property taxes (percentages) in order to keep the school budget in line. It is absolutely appalling and disgraceful that, by all accounts, this decision was made without notice or concern for the families involved.
This time change places an unreasonable financial strain on my family and many others.