Some parents concerned as North Kansas City School District changes start and stop times

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- North Kansas City School District voted Tuesday night to change up bell times for next school year, but not all parents are on board.

In some cases, kids would start school 90 minutes earlier in the morning or stay 30 minutes later in the afternoon. But parents are worried that big swings in class schedules will make family life tougher.

Cora Spall has three kids attending North KC schools, and she's concerned about the changes to school schedules.

"The kids are already getting home at almost four in the afternoon," Spall said. "Now this change is going to put them getting home at almost five. With homework, dinner and showers and everything, it's almost bed time at that point."

Spall's daughter already gave up dance after school because it was eating into her homework and family time too much.

In some cases, the bell time changes will move middle school students from starting at 8:40 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. While that's among the earliest start times in the metro, it will put all North KC middle schools closer in line with each other.

"I really hope they take into consideration all the families' concerns," Spall said.

Julie Cox works from home but knows the changes to move her daughter's elementary start time later could put a lot of parents in a pickle.

"A half hour is pretty drastic," she said. "It's going to make most people an extra hour late to work, and most people cannot change their whole career because of a later start at school and trying to find someone that could watch their kids before and after."

The district said the changing schedules will help accommodate growth and school bus needs.

Two current middle schools are being converted to sixth grade centers next year, and two new elementary schools will open. Keeping all schedules the same while adding new buildings would've been pretty pricey.

"That's a $1.3 million increase to our current budget," said Rochel Daniels, the district's organizational development executive director. "We'd have to hire an additional 200 staff members in order to make that happen. So we wanted to be fiscally responsible and prudent with the taxpayer's money. This was the best compromise with minimal impact on families."

The district also said it did surveys with parents, staff and student groups to gauge impact of the proposed schedule changes.

It is already planning to expand its Adventure Club program for before- and after-school care to help families who find themselves scrambling to adjust to the changes. The district also said it will work to address any other concerns families may have.