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Some Parents Angry Over Bell Schedule Changes

A meeting with a school board member Monday aims to answer questions, address concerns

School officials say recently approved changes to its 2012-2013 bell schedule are necessary to and three new elementary schools in Fairfax this fall, but some parents are taking issue with what they call a significant change in their family's quality of life, particularly for working parents who need to see their children off to school and still get to work on time.

Come September, the system will welcome the first of what it says , along with the opening of Mason Crest Elementary School in Annandale, Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church and South County Middle School in Lorton.

The shift will change more than 60 schools' schedules across the elementary, middle and high school levels.

For a full list of schools affected, click here.

Some schools will shift as little as 20 minutes. But others could see changes as large as 40 minutes, which will significantly affect the daily lives of students and their families, opponents say.

"With this time difference, many parents, some of whom travel from places as far as Clifton and South County districts will be unable to maintain their jobs requiring them to arrive to work by 9 a.m.," one parent wrote to Patch. "And parents who have children at our local high school may have to wait over two hours to drop their children off at elementary school and high school."

Some parents say they've received little information about the change, until they requested a town hall meeting scheduled for Monday.

Braddock District School Board representative Megan McLaughlin will meet with a group of parents on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Laurel Ridge Elementary School cafeteria to address the bell schedule changes. The meeting is open to the public.

"Although 20 minutes does not seem like a drastic difference, it will certainly change the quality of life for many families and most importantly, our children," the parent wrote.

Mitze Thornhill June 12, 2012 at 02:09 PM
My family lives in a modest home in Kings Park West which is a constant fix-me-upper due to the age of the home and we are also a tight knit neighborhood. I was a stay-at-home mother for the past eleven years in which our family made great financial sacrifices in order for me to do so. I recently went back to work so we could afford to send our son with special needs to a private school specific for his special needs which costs a lot of money, and help pay for my daughter's college education. Kings Park West is an older community, and LRES resides in it. LRES is having their bell schedule changed significantly (by 20 minutes later). Traffic in our area has increased by volumes making it more difficult for commuting parents, who either have to leave earlier in the morning to get to work on time or leave later and get home later in the evening impacting family quality time. My children play extra-curricular sports as well as many other children. Them getting home well after 4:30pm from school will not allow these children to get the homework completed, eat dinner and be dressed and out the door by 5pm to attend their activities. I know parents that would like to be able to stay at home to be with their children, but due to individual family dynamics and situations they cannot do so, and most of those that I know that feel that way do not live in a big fancy home because they are my neighbors who are struggling just like my family to keep afloat in an economy that has tanked.
Steve June 12, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Ms. Spangler, I'm not entirely sure I understand your point. You indicate that everyone is in the same position because everyone works. So, when everyone works, who are these neigbors that are staying at home? The only homes that have anyone staying at home in our neighborhood, and even those are few, are retirees. It is one thing to have a retiree watch a child in an emergency, quite another to expect them to watch them every day. And, since as you pointed out, everyone works, that would put quite a burden on them to have all the children in the neighborhood to watch. While I am sure success stories can be pointed out of children who were left to take care of themselves, there are just as many concerns. There are plenty of counselors who point out that the number of young adults who are staying home longer is increasing, past the age when our generation moved out and was on our own. And a belief is that it is because they were left alone without the supervision to teach them how to be motivated. Alone, they play video games and watch tv. I'm not saying all do, but there are plenty of them that do. Can we as parents do this? Sure. We are human, we can adapt, we can overcome any adversity. Just because we can doesn't mean we should have to, when there are other options available. Why is the transportation window for Fairfax county compressed when other counties in the country are not? Why can't we learn from what other counties in the country do?
NBJ June 27, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Thanks Jeneen.
Sally Spangler June 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Steve - I stayed home until all three of my children were in school. The youngest was in Head Start and went to the home of a lady who was willing to keep my son (paid, of course) until I could collect him after 4:30 each day. There was one mother in my neighborhood that did not work as her husband made decent money at his government job. This went on until my youngest went to Hayfield Secondary. With that, he went where his brother and sister went each afternoon. Any real problems - including my daughter meeting the neighbor's storm door and taken to a hospital, I left work and hurried to the hospital to see to my daughter's care. My military boss understood my problem, so these emergencies were allowed. Nothing quite like a husband who finds the bottom of a beer can is better than working and helping - he disappeared and I raised my children and did everything else required. Surprising what you can do when necessary. Including teach soccer to boys. My father would jump in on weekends and go with one son to his game while I went to the other or kept my team going and a winning year I might add. Sally
Sally Spangler June 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Check with Dept of Education. You will find that the buses that serve one school probably serve all the schools in the same area. My brother served three schools "Answered three bells" as he called it as a bus driver.

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