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New School Start Times Endorsed

The superintendent for Columbia Public Schools now backs the plan to have high schools start last.Dr. Chris Belcher told ABC 17 News that he will present his plan to the school board next week. He believes this setup makes the most sense and gives the most flexibility for students in all grades.After hundreds of phone calls and thousands of emails, Belcher says he has heard enough feedback and has come to a conclusion. The decision to start high schools at 9 a.m. was the most crafted plan and the one that received the most input.”Well first it would be starting at 7:20 like any other high school in Missouri and that got a loud response from the community and our board, they didn’t want to do that,” said Belcher.The latest three tier bell schedule looks like this: Middle schools will start first at 7:30 a.m., with elementary students broken up into two groups. One would start at 7:30 a.m. with the other at 8:20 a.m. Finally, at 9 a.m., high school classes would start.”At first it kind of bothered me, but then high schools have what other schools doesn’t have — flexibility,” Belcher said.That flexibility includes to have zero period classes in which students can opt out of their final block. They can also take other classes online or off campus.As far as extracurricular activities, the superintendent says practice or meetings can be held either before or after school and students will have to drive themselves.This is the first proposed schedule that the superintendent has endorsed. Belcher says he will be recommending it to the school board and a decision will be made sometime next month.

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