School start times to change next year for Putnam County students

Some parents like change, but others do not

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - School start times will change next year for Putnam County students.

Middle and high school students will go to school later next year, at 9 a.m., and elementary school students will arrive earlier, at 7:15 a.m.

The Putnam County school board voted for the change at an open meeting Tuesday. 

Some parents like the change, but others do not. 

"I just got an email sent to me, I think it was yesterday, with the new time change and I said, 'Wow!" parent Patricia Moore told News4Jax on Thursday. 

Moore, who has a ninth grader at Palatka High School, said next year's new school hours don't bother her, but she understands why some parents are frustrated, especially parents with younger children. 

"What are they going to do with the little ones that maybe can't afford day care?" Moore said. "It is an issue, but sometimes you just have to go with the system."

News4Jax spoke with Putnam County Superintendent Rick Surrency about the change. He said the school board voted in favor of the change because of research.

According to Surrency, studies approved by the school district show older students learn better when they have more sleep and younger students learn better before noon. 

Parent Richard Lewis said he agrees with the school board's decision. 

"In my mind, we elected these officials to take care of our kids and do what's best for our kids, and with the studies I've seen that were pointed to me by other people, it makes sense," he said. "We will try it and see how it goes." 

But there are a lot of other parents who said it will be hard for them to adjust to the change, and one parent has started a petition against it online. As of Thursday, it had more than 400 signatures. 

Because some parents said they change will be difficult, News4Jax asked Surrency whether the school board would reconsider the decision. He said that since it was decided at an open meeting, parents could have come out to voice their concerns at the meeting. 

Surrency added that there will be resources, such as transportation and after school care, for students in need. 

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