The Pulaski County Special School District, PCSSD, announced changes to start times for schools. Elementary schools will start at 8:30 instead of 7:30 as announced this summer.
"We have been reviewing our options related to our bell schedules for months, and there was much to consider including bus routes, costs and the fact that we had our youngest students having to get up so early," says TimClark, president of the PCSSD Board of Education. "One of the biggest changes is that elementary students, who will now start at approximately 8:30 a.m., will be able to be dropped off as early as 7:30 a.m. for breakfast. This will accommodate our parents who have to be at work by 8 a.m."
The PCSSD has hammered out the school start times just one week before the start of the school year. And it comes at a very high price.
The new school schedule will cost the district 80-90 thousand dollars but school officials say the price is not a concern when it comes to the safety its students
"I think its minimal when you look at the issue of safety of elementary students particularly the younger students," says PCSSD Superintendent Dr. Charles Hopson.
The 7:30 start time for middle school and high schoolers frees up the afternoons for students who have jobs or are involved in extra curricular activities. The 8:30 start time for elementary school students ensures they aren't waiting for the bus in the dark or home alone after school for hours before parents come home from work.
The school district and teachers both agree these hours are what's best for the kids.
"My spirits are very high. I'm optimistic we are going to have a great school year," says teacher Mildred Baker.
The change in start time now complies with the teachers' union contract. And they say they are ready to teach on the first day of school.
"My union president has asked us to continue to work so I feel great," says Baker.
But there are still plenty of issues between the district and the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers, PACT.
"We are going to continue to hold the district's feet to the fire on every single legal action," says PACT president Marty Nix.
Nix adds many more legal issues still have to be worked out before the union backs down.
"Its a binding agreement and you can't pick and chose when you want to follow it," says Nix.
Teachers are saying the district really did wait until the last minute to announce these school start times. They are relieved that they know they will be going back to work for the first day of school.
Clark said after-school programs for elementary students will be offered until 4:30 p.m. to allow parents extra time to pick up their students.
Bus schedules will be available early next week on the district's website