MCPS Continues Gathering Feedback on Bell Times Proposal

January 6, 2014
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is continuing to gather broad community feedback on proposed changes to school starting and ending times, also known as bell times. Over the next two months, that feedback will include surveys of MCPS students, staff, and parents, as well as community forums and self-guided discussion groups on the proposal.

The third of four community forums will be held tonight (Monday, January 6), 7-8:30 p.m., at Seneca Valley High School.

On October 1, Superintendent Joshua P. Starr recommended that MCPS consider moving high school start times 50 minutes later (from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.); moving middle school start times 10 minutes earlier (from 7:55 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.); and keeping elementary school start times as they currently are (8:50 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.), but extending the school day by 30 minutes. His recommendation was based on the findings of the 2013 Bell Times Work Group, which studied school start times and the impact they have on student well-being, especially in high school.

In October, MCPS began a comprehensive effort to gather feedback from the community, including students, staff, parents, business leaders, and community members. Those efforts will continue into the spring, at which time the input will be compiled and submitted to Dr. Starr and Montgomery County Board of Education members, who will make a final decision on whether to change bell times. The earliest any changes to starting and ending times would occur is the 2015-2016 school year.

“We have received a tremendous amount of feedback on my recommendation, so far, and will continue to gather input until I am confident the entire community has had the opportunity to weigh in,” Dr. Starr said. “I think this is an important issue that should be considered, but we will not move forward until we have a broad understanding of how it will impact our entire community.”

Community Forums

Two community forums have already been held—on October 28 and December 16—with more than 350 people providing input and asking questions. Two more community forums will be held in the coming weeks:  

TODAY, Monday, January 6: Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown

Monday, February 10: Montgomery Blair High School, 51 University Blvd., East, in Silver Spring

All forums will be held 7 p.m. –8:30 p.m. Free child care (ages 4 and older) and interpretation services will be provided.


From mid-January until the end of March, MCPS will survey students, staff and parents on Dr. Starr’s recommendation. The surveys will be administered electronically.

A random sampling of parents will receive a letter from MCPS, providing them with a passcode they can use to take the survey. The parent sample will be representative of the MCPS community, demographically and geographically, and the survey will be available in multiple languages.

Students in selected grades in elementary, middle, and high schools will be provided the opportunity to take a survey as well. All students in grades 4 and 5, 7 and 8, and 10 and 11 will be asked to participate in the surveys.

MCPS will survey all of its employees about the proposal.  

Neighbor to Neighbor

Since early November, MCPS has been gathering input on the recommendation through the “Neighbor to Neighbor” campaign. Neighbor to Neighbor provides people an opportunity to participate in a self-guided discussion group, using an online toolkit. The self-guided discussions can be hosted at schools, in people’s homes or at community gathering places.

The Neighbor to Neighbor website provides a toolkit with resources for those who wish to host or participate in an event, which includes step-by-step instructions; an overview video on the bell times report and recommendation; informative handouts that can be shared with attendees; and questions to guide the discussion. Each Neighbor to Neighbor discussion group is asked to provide feedback to MCPS, which will be considered by Dr. Starr and the Board of Education as they consider their final decision on bell times. MCPS has received feedback from more than 25 Neighbor to Neighbor discussions, so far.

Members of the public can also send feedback by email to For more information about recommendation and ways the community can offer input, visit the MCPS Bell Times website.

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