This Discussion channel is currently closed.

UPDATE March 20: The school board approved the bell schedules as proposed at its regular work session. Video of the discussion can be found here at about the 1:26 mark.


UPDATE March 8: Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.


-UPDATE March 5: The board directed transportation staff to re-examine the proposals related to Briarcliff and Cary elementary schools, among others. They will discuss again at the March 19th work session based on additional information that will be provided by staff. Watch the full discussion.


-We are working on responses to some frequently asked questions and will post here by the end of the week.




Our transportation staff is recommending the following new bell schedules for 2019-20. 


  • East Cary Middle School: 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Briarcliff Elementary 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

  • Cary Elementary - 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.


Why is this being proposed? 

The main reason for this proposal is the opening of Green Level High School in Cary.

High schools start earlier, at 7:25 a.m., and end earlier, at 2:18 p.m. Drivers need to complete their high school routes and then begin middle and/or elementary school routes. 

Because of this, the standard start time for most middle schools in our district is 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

For the same reason, 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. is the standard schedule for most elementary schools in our district. 

We have to make changes in our transportation system anytime a new school opens. This is particularly true with new high schools, which require about 30 buses to adequately serve them. 

Moving East Cary Middle, Briarcliff Elementary and Cary Elementary to the standard schedule would ensure our transportation system in this area is as efficient and consistently reliable as possible.  


How can I share feedback and ask questions?

Please find the thread related to your school and leave feedback and questions.  

Staff and board members will monitor feedback. Staff will answer as many questions as possible in an FAQ document next week.


What are the next steps? 

The board will hear a presentation from staff at its work session on Tuesday, March 5, at 3:30 p.m. You can watch the meeting live on our YouTube channel,


We will post updates as warranted on this site.

The proposed 2019-20 bell schedule for Cary Elementary is 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Please share any feedback and questions you have about this proposal below.

20 Responses

Elizabeth Brignac 5 months ago

I very much hope that we can keep the schedule the way it is. My other son goes to a school that starts at 7:30 and ends at 2:15. This is a fairly normal middle school schedule as I understand it. If my CE son starts at 9:15 and ends at 3:45, I end up spending over three extra hours per day in limbo-- no time to do anything worth doing with them; no time to get my work done -- just in limbo between events. It also throws off our after school activities. I would much prefer to keep the schedule the way it is.

11 Votes
Michelle Stewart 5 months ago

I would also like the schedule to stay the same or as close to the same as possible. It seems too long for little kids to be at school. Perhaps the sleepy teenagers need a later start schedule? Also consider that ending at 3:45 almost ensures that students having doctor's/ dentist appointments will likely HAVE to miss precious instruction time at some point. As the schedule is now, I can still fit in some appointments in around school time. One other thing to consider: most parents have to work. Currently I send my daughter to the before school program which begins only one hour before she starts school. If this change occurs, this will be a problem as my job will begin 2 hours before my daughter begins school. Right now, my job begins at 7:00 and my daughter's school begins at 8:00 so it is not such a problem.

9 Votes
Jenny Barrier 5 months ago

I do not want the later start time. The morning will not work with our work schedules and the afternoon leaves them even less time to be children. They’re already too tired to properly focus at 3, much less 3:45. I don’t understand why the high schoolers who have later internal clocks and are able to put themselves on a bus cannot go to school later, leaving our childrens schedule the way that it is.

10 Votes
Matthew Schumaker 5 months ago

I strongly object to the bell changes put forth for Cary Elementary School. These start times would adversely affect both of my children that attend Cary Elementary School. At 8:30 both children are awake, alert and in the mood for learning. Contrast that with late afternoon when their energy levels and attention spans are waning. The schedule change removes 45 minutes of great learning time with 45 minutes of poor learning time.

Cary Elementary (and Briarcliff Elementary) both serve large populations of working class families where both parents work. The later start time would add an additional financial burden to these families since they must now pay for before school care, in addition to after school care.

Why weren't these buses planned for in advance? I can't imagine that the WCPSS administration is so poorly managed that in the 4 years since ground was broken for Green Level High School that it is only now that the administration is realizing that 30 buses are needed for the new school. I really hope the teachers received more notice than the parents.

Finally, Green Level High School is located in west Cary where Cary Elementary and East Cary Middle are located in east Cary. Under optimum conditions it takes 20 minutes to get between the two locations. I highly doubt that buses will be able to make the journey from west to east cary, during rush hour and complete their routes without encountering significant delays on a regular basis.

8 Votes
Jessica Gutierrez 4 months ago

I second a frustration with the lack of planning. WCPSS knew changes were necessary. After making significant changes to the CES, BES, RCMMS & ECMS areas for next year, leave CES, BES & RCMMS alone. The grandfathering is already a stressor on families and schools in this area.

It is completely unacceptable that WCPSS is acting now after the grandfather and magnet windows closed to propose these changes. We're already in the transfer window now. If someone has to be moved, leave us alone. Families who have students at middle school and CES and BES already had to make tough choices based on the best information they had at that time.

0 Votes
Crystal Svedi 5 months ago

Making a change to the bell schedule is putting a lot of families with both parents working in a difficult situation. My children are not old enough to put themselves on a bus and I will have to enroll them both in the before school program. I intentionally found a job that allows me to avoid the extra costs of before school care and would allow me to take my children to school. We also intentionally left our other school for the earlier bell schedule. We were at a school that ended at 3:45 and by the time my children came home and finished their homework it was already time for dinner and to start their bedtime routines. That extra time in the afternoon allows my children to wind down from their long day at school and still have time to play. Children need that time.

As also mentioned by others, you are proposing a change that will be decided on when the magnet and transfer window is closed. I feel that it is unfair to all of us.

I ask that you please leave the elementary school schedules alone. Many of these children are too young to get to school on their own. The older children in middle and high school are able to walk to school or get on the bus without needing an adult, but many of the elementary school children are not.

9 Votes
CM Gr 5 months ago

I would like for the start time to remain the same for Cary Elementary school. My children are already up early and ready to learn. By the end of the day my kids are completely spent academically and the later dismissal will just add more time where the children are not going to constructively receive instruction because they are too tired. After school we have play time and activities since the children do not get enough movement in school. A later dismissal will make it harder to include activities and have time for homework and dinner without everything being very rushed. Research shows that younger children learn better in the morning and the older children/teenagers need to sleep in. Yes it would be a bigger overtaking to make high school start later and elementary schools start sooner or remain the same but the county needs to start thinking about what is best for children rather than bottom dollar and efficiency that is impossible to obtain with the resources the county currently has.

6 Votes
RK Gaiser 5 months ago

I hope folks are also emailing Bill Fletcher directly at

Here's what I wrote to him -

Dear Mr. Fletcher, I am writing to you for your support to oppose the proposed school schedule change. Please fight to keep the 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM schedule for the following reasons: - This proposed change comes very late in the school year, AFTER the deadline for magnet and charter schools. Thus, parents do not have the opportunity to seek other school options IF this new schedule goes through. Please oppose this change because it locks families into a school schedule without choice. - Starting school at 9:15 AM puts a financial burden on parents who now MUST pay for before-care. Please oppose this change to relieve families from additional financial burden. - Elementary children need outdoor and recreational time after school! Extending the school day means elementary kids have LESS time for exercise, outside time, and extracurricular activities. With kids getting less and less recess time, the extra hours of daylight after the school day allows for free time to play and just be a kid. This is invaluable! With specials being cut across the county, kids are getting less PE, music and art. Please oppose the this change and fight for children's needs for sports, free play, music/art lessons, and other extracurricular activities.

These are just few of the reasons important to my family and many others I've talked to. Please stand with our families and OPPOSE this change.

6 Votes
Jessica Gutierrez 4 months ago

Write the ENTIRE School Board. Not just Bill Fletcher.

0 Votes
Jessica Gutierrez 4 months ago
0 Votes
Jenn Smith 4 months ago

I agree with the above comments about keeping CES' bell schedule the same. Research does not support elementary schools starting later in the day so this change is not research based. If it is a busing issue, why is there an elementary school much closer to Green Hope that is a larger school (CES is under 600 students while DDES has approximately over 1000 students) that starts at 7:45 am? Being a neighborhood school we have many walkers and car riders versus bus riders. Please look at the demographics of our school. We have working parents who will incur a financial hardship if they need to add before school care to after school costs. Going on the available spreadsheets for costs of before and after school care it would cost $123.75 for before school plus $ 114.58 equaling $238.33. Working families I have spoken to at our school who would need to add before school care note this means an increase of $82.50 a month per student. And this is assuming there will be no increase in child care fees.

In conclusion, as a parent at CES I received notification about this proposed change on Friday afternoon. Staff did NOT receive notification unless they have a child enrolled at one of the three proposed affected schools. I would hope WCPSS would value their staff's input on such an important issue.

Thank you,

Jenn Smith

5 Votes
JC Martin 4 months ago

I am opposed to the proposed bell schedule changes for the elementary schools due to the financial burden it will place upon working families whose jobs do not offer flexibility with start and end times. Even an earlier start for the elementary schools will create a burden for families and WCPSS to struggle to manage (either way, it will likely mean a family has to come up with money to figure out care options early in the day or later in the day, and WCPSS will likely need to add more staff to before and after school programs). If any change is made, it should be done so very carefully, thoughtfully, and with transparency about all data considered and factors involved. But I feel that the elementary school schedules should be left alone.

4 Votes
Melisa Turner 4 months ago

I am strongly opposed to changing the bell schedule at Cary Elementary. With the current schedule, I am able to get my children on the bus around 7:40am and then make it to work on time. This would be impossible with a 9:15am start time. The new schedule would require us to sign up for the before school program. We would go from paying for only the after school program (currently $1417.47/child/year) to having to pay for both the after school program (would be $1046.22/child/year) AND the before school program (depending on BSP start time, this would cost between $881.25 and $1128.75/child/year) for a total of $1927.47-$2174.97/year. So, for my 2 children this would cost my family $1020-$1515 more than we are currently spending each year!

Even without the financial considerations, I can’t see any benefit to this change. My children would still need to wake-up at the same time because of our work schedules, but now they’d be in school even later. Their favorite part of the day is the time they get to run and play with their friends during ASP, but that time would be shortened with the later end to school. In fact, in the winter, there may not be any time to get them outdoors before it’s dark. We would have less time together as a family and the kids would have less downtime.

Ironically, these changes are being proposed because of the bus schedules, but if the bell schedule changes, my kids would never be able to take the bus. In addition to this requiring me to drive my children every day, it will also be a huge disappointment to my kids who actually love taking the bus.

4 Votes
Rachel Studebaker 4 months ago

I am strongly opposed to the proposed bell schedule change at Cary Elementary. I feel the board is not taking into consideration the adverse affect this change would have on the children, families, and staff. Most working parents cannot stay at home until 9am to get their youger children on the bus. Not all families in our area can afford both before school and after school care as this new bell schedule would require for working parents. I would like for the bell schedule to remain the same so families do not have to bear the burden of poor planning from WCPSS. There is no reason that children should sacrifice their time with family during the evenings because of a lack of buses/drivers.

4 Votes
Timothy Wright 4 months ago

The motivation behind this change makes no sense. Research shows that if any level school should have a later bell schedule it should be the high schools. Districts who shift their high school bell schedules to later have higher attendance and better scores (

On a personal level, this change will make things difficult for my family as I will have to bus my child to school (we're less than 5 min away) or pay for before school care. This change will post a financial cost and reduce time I have to spend with my child.

4 Votes
Rhonda Lowery 4 months ago

I think the research you cite is part of the reason for this change in the first place....I could be wrong, but they are just trying to "true up" Briarcliff and Cary Elementary to what all of the other Elementary school schedules are, and then once they do that, I could see in the future there being a "swap" of the early high school start time with the early elementary school start time across the county.

0 Votes
Kerri Erb 4 months ago

I'm in full agreement with the above posters in my strong opposition to the proposed delayed start of Cary Elementary. In our community many families are employed by our local and state government or other agencies which keep typical business hours. I know many of my staff would struggle to meet their family and work obligations with a latter start time. Teachers and other parents I've known in WCPSS with this latter bell schedule indicate this is a difficult schedule for children and parents.

Personally, I'll have to add both before and after school for my child. I am sure this would be a struggle for many working families. This proposed change will also decrease our amount of time for homework, family time and trying to make it to extracurricular activities, which my kids really enjoy. Lastly, I chose the middle school my older child attends in part because of the alignment of schedules.

The above posters have cited the research, which I understand requires a long term shift in operations. While we recognize the difficulties transportation poses, I ask the administration to look at other options aside from moving CES to a late start time.

2 Votes
Heather Holland 4 months ago

I am strongly opposed to the later start time. I think it will erode family time, which currently some of our families are able to have in either the morning or the afternoon, but the change will make it where many will just be sending kids to both before and after school care programs. These programs are expensive and siblings are not getting adequate play time together (the schedules for students are separated by ages/grades). I am not sure we would have the same need for the number bus routes, as many families would be forced to send their kids to before and after care programs. We only utilize 4 routes this year. I hope our 4 routes would not throw everything out of wack.

The new schedule would mean my daughter who gets private therapy and regular specialist doctor appointments would have to miss more instructional time in order to fit these in an already busy school day, regardless of the start bell time. And she loves school and does not like getting pulled out (I am able to scheduled these in the 3 pm hour with our current schedule) and still be home at a decent hour.

My kids are also up and ready to engage and learn by 8, so I fear the bell change will lead to over-tired children the last hour of the day, leading to more behavioral issues. My son's current teacher chose to change schools within the district last year for this reason. She desired a schedule that was friendlier to the students' body clocks and her free time, allowing her greater work life balance (ultimately meaning she will have less burn out).

I fear Cary will lose good teachers, as this leaves them little room for planning appointments outside of school hours, and many of our teachers have commutes to consider as well. So they would get less time with their kids in the afternoons, a time when so many kids have extra curricular activities.

Research indicates younger children should have earlier start times and middle and high school children should have later start times to align with their natural body clocks, which shift as they approach and enter puberty.

I watched the work session and saw that the real driving force behind this is the lack of bus drivers, not the lack of buses. I feel their needs to be a long hard look at how we can rectify this. I heard that many on the board favor the 8:30 start time for elementary students. Please retain this schedule for the handful for our elementary and for Briarcliff and South East Raleigh, as well as bringing it back for North Ridge and Apex.

Could we retain our current schedule if we reduced the number of bus stops within a single community or neighborhood? I know there are 5 or 6 stops within our community (Greenwood Forest/Tanglewood). I know there is typically a walk distance for bus stops of around .33 of a mile, but I would be willing to see my stop move to a more central location within the neighborhood if it meant we could reduce the number of minutes the 4 buses are on the road and we could keep an 8:30 start time.

If a change needs to be made, could we look into consideration of a change of 30 minutes or less? The 9:15 start time is even odd for some of my friends with preschool children, as most area preschools start drop off at 9. So if change is inevitable could it be no later than 8:45? I am grateful that the board recommended transportation look into work arounds. I sincerely hope they are reading this comment and taking things like these potential work arounds in mind.

I echo the thoughts of so many other parents. I have a part time job in the mornings, a few mornings a week that would even be difficult to maintain given this proposed schedule, and it would not be worth it to pay for the before school costs (X 2) for my children.

Thanks for your time and consideration of our concerns. We are concerned about what is best for our kids and the families at our schools.

0 Votes
Matt Dees admin 4 months ago

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions:

0 Votes
marina mochkina 4 months ago

As a full time working mom, I am completely against this change as most corporate jobs start 8:30-5:30pm. This change will basically twist all the full time working parents to NOT only pay for after school program but ALSO for before school program. Not all of us are stay at home moms and are not able to afford extra $100 per month. If you change the school hours, then the before school program should be free.

0 Votes