After collecting thousands of signatures on two separate petitions, parents and community members filled the Montgomery County Board of Education meeting room Tuesday to present their concerns regarding a later start time for high school students and differentiation opportunities in Curriculum 2.0.
Later in the meeting, Superintendent Joshua P. Starr addressed only the petition regarding starting school later, stating that he has asked staff to set up a work group that will look into the issue and present findings next spring.
Staff will study any previous reports the school system has conducted regarding switching school start times, collect public comments, look into other jurisdictions’ practices and study research on the academic and health benefits to the change, Starr said.
For Curriculum 2.0, Starr did not directly address the petition but later spoke about his preliminary request for next year’s budget, which includes extra resources in the implementation of Curriculum 2.0 and added math professional development positions.
About 50 people came to the meeting to voice their concerns. Many held signs such as “Increase Alertness SSL” and “MATH! No time to waste.”
The Start School Later petition, led by parent and social worker Mandi Mader of Garrett Park, had collected 10,129 signatures by Tuesday morning on Signon.org. The petition asks for the school system to make the start time of high schools after 8:15 a.m., when they now start at 7:25 a.m.
Mader, along with a current high school student, a recent graduate and a sleep specialist told the board their concerns, citing the physical and mental health and safety issues caused by starting school early.
Another petition, “No Time to Waste,” had gathered 1,387 signatures by Tuesday morning on Change.org. The petition asks the school board to change the new Curriculum 2.0 and the way that math is taught in the curriculum so that greater differentiation occurs and more attention is spent on each student’s individual needs.
Philip Giordano of Chevy Chase, who is one of the parents who started the petition, along with a parent of a third-grader said the curriculum was hurting students at all levels.