Can the Early Bird Save the Budget?

Emily Boland , Managing Editor

One proposed solution to fix the projected FCPS budget deficit of $72 million for the next school year is to revert back to last year’s start time. The county spent almost $5 million this year to institute the earlier start time, and could save $3.6 million next year, if they approve this solution.

“I wouldn’t mind if it were the right thing to do to fix the deficit,” said junior James Moxley, “I think that this might have been a pilot year.”

But what exactly is it that students are used to? While some students, like freshman Katie O’Lare, have found that they have more time to sleep, do homework, and get ready for school, not all students feel this way.

“I’m getting up later but I’m also staying up later, so it all cancels out,” Moxley said. “I get out of school later and I feel like I have less time at home.”

“Dance team practice is pushed back, so I get home later and go to bed later because I still have to do homework,” said junior Heather Thomas.

Junior Daniel Bourassa, said he now wakes up at 3:30 a.m. for swim practice, because his practice has been moved to before school to accommodate for the scheduling complications that the 35-minute later release has created. “Don’t change it, because everyone’s already used to it.” he said.

In contrast, Principle Eline said he has seen a positive effect. “Traffic has gotten drastically better since we changed the school time,” he said. “I think that traffic would be worse if we went back. This is not based on data, just my observations, but students are spreading out their arrival at school. Some students get here at 7:30 and 7:40 and 7:45 . Last year, they all used to get here at the same time.”

This change is just a proposition, there is no guarantee that it will be instated next year or at all. The superintendent will announce the proposed 2016-2017 budget on Jan. 7, and the finalized budget will be announced on May 26, 2016.

“No one asked me before now, so I feel like my voice was never heard,” Moxley said. Students may share their opinions with administrators at public budget hearings Jan. 25 and April 5 through 7 at the Gatehouse Administration Center in Falls Church, as well as on May 17 at Luther Jackson Middle School.