CHARLOTTE, NC (Ann Doss Helms/The Charlotte Observer) - Amid all the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools changes that have made headlines recently, the district has quietly slipped in one more: About 36 schools will see their start and dismissal times change in 2018-19.
That can be a huge deal for families trying to juggle work and school schedules, especially if they have children in more than one school.
School hours can also play a role in where parents decide to send their children, which is why CMS has posted next year's "bell schedule" list more than nine months before the new school year begins. Families have until Dec. 18 to enter the lottery for 2018 magnet seats, with the application season coming two months earlier than usual.
Most schools will keep the same hours as this year. And most of the changes are only 15 minutes.
But some are shifting by 30 minutes or more, a change that can compound the stress for families already trying to make sense of revised boundaries, programs and grade configurations approved as part of this year's student assignment review.
For instance: Billingsville and Cotswold elementary schools will merge their populations next year, with K-2 students going to Billingsville and 3-5 to Cotswold. This year Billingsville starts at 8:15 a.m. and Cotswold at 9:15. Next year Billingsville will start at 7:45 and Cotswold at 8.
The goal is to allow K-5 children to keep riding the same bus, which will drop off at Billingsville, then take the older children to Cotswold.
But Cotswold parent Michelle McDonald Hendrix said she and other families were stunned to learn that school will start more than an hour earlier next year. They've been working with CMS to plan for the transition, she said, but no one discussed this change until they saw the schedule posted.
Cotswold is a neighborhood school that includes an International Baccalaureate magnet program, which means some students opt in from neighborhoods further away. The magnet program will continue to be part of the combined schools.
"We will have kindergarteners in Steele Creek and Ballantyne on the bus at 6 a.m.," Hendrix said, saying the change makes her doubt CMS is serious about making the new magnet arrangement work.
Other schools seeing changes of 30 minutes or more are:
- Berewick Elementary moves from 8 to 8:30.
- Briarwood Elementary moves from 8:45 to 8.
- Eastway Middle moves from 8:15 to 9:15.
- Morehead STEM Academy, a K-8 magnet that will merge with Nathaniel Alexander Elementary to become Governors Village STEM Academy, goes from 8:45 to 9:15 and will take grades 5-8 next year. Nathaniel Alexander shifts from 7:45 to 8 and houses grades K-4.
- Hornets Nest Elementary shifts from 8:45 to 8.
- Kennedy Middle shifts from 8:45 to 9:15.
- Oakdale Elementary shifts from 8:45 to 8.
- Trillium Springs Montessori shifts from 8 to 9:15.
- Whitewater Middle shifts from 8:45 to 9:15.