A new survey of Pinellas County parents shows what they like — and don't like — about start times, school uniforms and early release on Wednesdays.
One of the sharpest divides was over what time high school kids start class. While elementary school parents overwhelmingly support their start times (93.1 percent in favor) and middle school parents also like their times (66.5 percent), high school parents are pretty split: 50.7 percent of parents surveyed said they're unhappy.
Boca Ciega High School starts at 7:07 a.m. Dan Rothenberger, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, said a group of kids he mentors at the school seem to struggle that early. His 17-year-old son doesn't like the early start, either.
"Most of what I hear from him and other kids is that it's pretty early," he said. "I work with young men at the school and I think they'd rather see a late start time. I see a lot of sleepy, hung heads."
Back in June the School Board approved a slate of new start times that would have eliminated 50 bus routes and helped save $2.25 million from the 2010-11 budget. But parents pushed back. Two weeks later the board reversed itself and kept the old times.
Early-release Wednesdays, though, seemed to face widespread distaste from parents of elementary, middle and high school students, according to the survey.
About 54.1 percent of elementary school parents surveyed want to do away with early-release Wednesdays. So do 45.4 percent of high school parents. Middle school parents were equally split.
But discontent with the early release day is compounded when adding on the small number of parents from each group — between 12 to 15 percent — who favor reducing early-release Wednesdays to just once a month.
Support for early-release Wednesdays is more tepid at the staff level. Only elementary schoolteachers and staffers think the early-release day boosts student performance (52.8 percent.) Middle school staffers are split down the middle. A majority of high school staffers (68.5 percent) believe it doesn't help performance at that level.
The survey also shows strong support for school uniforms — even from those parents whose kids don't have to adhere to a standardized dress code.
Elementary school parents whose children don't have to wear school uniforms said they favor the uniforms by 59.9 percent. The same was true of middle school parents (55 percent) and high school parents (53 percent.)
The survey was completed last month and compiles answers from 6,663 parents.
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