GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Updated Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
Grand Prairie Independent School District has postponed a vote on proposed changes to bell schedules for middle and high schools.
The school district told WFAA on Wednesday that the issue will undergo further study before any decision is made. The school also said it hasn't established a timeline of when the topic will return to the school board members for a vote.
Grand Prairie Independent School District board members will have a lot of eyes on them Tuesday night as they intend to vote on proposed changes to bell schedules for both middle and high schools.
A number of parents have already voiced their disapproval for those proposed changes, which the district said it put considerable research into.
The district is recommending board members approve a new bell schedule for the next school year where middle schools would start earlier and high schools would start later.
Currently, middle schools within the district start at 8:50 a.m. and release at 4:15 p.m.
High schools currently start earlier at 7:35 a.m. and release at 3:00 p.m.
If board members adopt the district's newly proposed bell schedule, middle schools would start almost an hour-and-a-half earlier at 7:25 a.m. and would release at 2:50 p.m.
High schools would then start at 8:45 a.m. and would release at 4:10 p.m.
Schedules for elementary schools would stay the same except for Moore Prep, which would start at 7:45 a.m. and would end at 3:10 p.m.
GPISD spokesperson Sam Buchmeyer said that the district had been researching a new bell schedule dating back to 2016, and that it hadn't been changed for at least five years.
Buchmeyer said a committee mainly made up of district administrators put together recommendations for the board.
Per Buchmeyer, the district's research pointed toward better attendance and grades if high school students started later.
"The most recent research indicates that later start times are better off from a health perspective and student success," Buchmeyer told WFAA.
In the state of Texas, better attendance means better funding for school districts.
Board president Burke Hall pointed out at a recent meeting where new start times were discussed that raising average daily attendance by just one percent could mean an additional $500,000 in funding.
Yet, not every parent is pleased.
The district said it sent out surveys via email to parents about a proposed change to the bell schedules, but very few told WFAA that they participated.
Sara Jackson-Holzman said she did, and voted against a change.
Her son Dakota Jackson is a sophomore at South Grand Prairie High School.
Jackson goes to theatre class after school and his mother is worried about him getting home late in the evening.
"There tends to be practices and rehearsals that run at least two hours after the bell rings," Jackson-Holzman said. "It doesn't make sense to me."
Jackson added that he's more worried about his friends who have jobs after school, and how the proposed changes may impact them.
"A lot of them are doing it to pay off their cars or their bills for their family," Jackson said. "If they can't have a job then that's going to mess up their life."
Sherree Gilbert, another South Grand Prairie High School parent, said the proposed changes would impact her job.
Gilbert said that she has to be at work by 7:15 a.m., and can currently drop her daughter off at the bus stop on the way to work.
"It's perfect and I make it into work on time," Gilbert said.
But if high schools started an hour later? Gilbert would have trouble getting her daughter to school in the morning.
"Well, I would have to work with my employer, which is tough because I have a set schedule. It would completely turn us around," Gilbert said.
Malcom Chakery's world would turn upside down.
He has kids in elementary, middle, and high schools within the district.
He told WFAA under the new bell schedule he would have to drop his middle school student off first, then drop off his elementary school student next.
Meaning, she would be waiting around for a while for the bell to start at her school.
"Our elementary-aged child will have to be at school 40 or so minutes before she even starts," Chakery said.
Chakery's high school child goes to Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy.
He said the school has always started at 8:45 a.m. and is right next to Grand Prairie High School.
If board members go with the proposed changes, both schools may start at the same time.
"Traffic will be a nightmare," Chakery said. "It could take two hours out of the day just picking up and dropping off kids."
A number of parents have voiced concerns about middle schoolers not having a place to go for almost an hour-and-a-half when schools release.
Buchmeyer said that the district may extend its Beyond The Bell program to middle school parents if the proposed changes are accepted.
Beyond the Bell is an after school, tuition-based program and the district charges $65 per student weekly.
Right now, it's only offered for students between pre-K and 6th grade.
Homework time and fitness activities are offered.
"Tutoring or extracurricular activities are also options that we can discuss to address and alleviate some of the concerns of those parents," Buchmeyer said.
"Board members are cognizant that there are very strong opinions on both sides of the issue."