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Why aren't school and work hours the same?

The Center for American Progress has suggested changing school hours to 9-to-5.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Back to school means a delicate balancing act for parents who wonder why school and work hours aren’t more closely aligned.

A study by the Center for American Progress suggests millions of dollars in productivity could be saved if school hours were altered to fit a parent’s busy work schedule. The group has suggested moving to a 9-to-5 school day.

“School schedules create more than just inconveniences,” according to the CAP report. “They result in lower levels of full-time employment among women with elementary school age children. This lost productivity costs the economy about $35 billion every year.”

Educators tell 11Alive’s Why Guy that while they’re sympathetic to working parents, schedules are done with the focus on learning.

“Any decisions should take into account what this means for student achievement and learning,” says Colin Sharkey, Executive Director of the Association of American Educators. “That’s why students are in school in the first place, not as child care.”

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Others worry a 9-to-5 day would be taxing on students.

“We’d be asking a lot, especially of younger students, to have them there late in the afternoon,” says Charlotte Booker, President of the Georgia Association of Educators. “They don’t need to be in school as late as 5 p.m. They need a schedule that will fit the optimum times for them to absorb information.”

Keeping older students in class until five would mean pushing after school activities to later in the day, meaning some wouldn’t get home until 7 or 8 at night.

There’s also the issue of bus schedules.

Typically, school systems don’t have enough buses or drivers to transport elementary, middle, and high school students all at at the same time. Fitting every student into a 9-to-5 schedule would mean spending more money on transportation, which would mean taking money away from the classroom.

“If we had all 141 schools starting at the same time, it would add to traffic congestion not just around the schools, but throughout the county,”Sloan Roach, spokesperson for Gwinnett County schools said.

School systems have before and after-school programs to accommodate working parents.

It’s also worth noting that many parents don’t work a traditional 9-to-5 day.

Changing school hours to accommodate everyone would be impossible.

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