Parents protest new bell times for Iowa City schools

Elementaries starting 15 mins. later, dismissing 45 mins. later

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IOWA CITY — Some parents in Iowa City are concerned about new bell times approved by the Iowa City Community School District board earlier this month — particularly how the schedule will effect elementary school students.

“They’re up early and they tire out early at the end of the day,” said Jill Tobin, mother to two elementary school students and one of several to express concerns at Tuesday’s meeting. “So we’re going to have this block of time in the morning that’s not productive because we’ll be in this holding pattern of waiting to go to school.”

The new schedule will have elementary schools starting at 8:45 a.m. and dismissing at 3:45 p.m., 15 minutes later and 45 minutes later than this year’s 8:30 a.m. start and 3 p.m. dismissal.

The district’s superintendent, Stephen Murley, said the changes are necessary to increase learning time, especially as the district works to incorporate new math and literacy standards.

“We’ve been working very hard with teachers and building administrators to make sure that [the added] time is well spent,” Murley said. “We think the process we’ll have in place for next fall will afford students a lot of additional time for learning and teachers additional time to teach.”

Murley said the board has no plans to re-evaluate the schedule for the 2015-2016 school year, but said issues and concerns will be discussed at the end of the first year the schedule is implemented.

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