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HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WBFF) — Some parents and educators are concerned about the impact of looming changes to school start and dismissal times across Howard County Public Schools.

“I found out literally 13 minutes prior to the email going out,” said Benjamin Schmitt, President of the Howard County Education Association, the district’s teacher’s union.

Schmitt says educators were among those blindsided by an email from district superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano on Wednesday, which announced schedule changes for schools starting September 20th.

The schedule adjustments come as the district continues to struggle with student transportation.

Schmitt told FOX45 News he received hundreds of texts and emails from teachers and staff following the announcement.

According to the head of the teachers union, educators voiced concerns about impacts to the school day – but also pointed to the impacts on their own families, childcare arrangements, second jobs, etc.

“All of these things are affected in a trickle down way,” said Schmitt. “For one single decision that might not seem like it’s major — but it effects everyone in some way.”

The Superintendent’s email Wednesday notified HCPSS families of five- or ten-minute adjustments to school schedules starting next week.

Martirano said thousands of students are impacted by school bus delays and some students, “are getting dropped off nearly two hours after their dismissal.”

The HCPSS leader called the schedule change a “big ask” of families and acknowledged the trickle down effect for families, childcare, and traffic patterns.

“It’s definitely been chaotic and stressful,” said Stephanie deWit, a mom of three HCPSS students who attend three different schools.

Due to inconsistent and unreliable school buses, parents like deWit have also been thrust into logistical gymnastics since kids went back-to-school.

“[My daughter] was marked absent one day because she was so late,” said deWit.

This mom questions if a schedule adjustment will help her daughter make it to class on time.

“They can’t get her to school at 8 a.m., how are they gonna get her there at 7:50 in the morning?” she said. “I worry that she’ll just be even later to School.”

READ ALSO | Chaotic start to school year in Howard County as bus issues leave students stranded

Schmitt said he’s also skeptical if schedule changes will fix the issues with transportation.

“I’m concerned because I think the issue is bigger than just time,” he said.

An HCPSS spokesperson said the school time changes will be in effect for the duration of the 2023-2024 school year.

According to a memo to the Howard County Board of Education from the Superintendent, changes are being made in the middle of the week because Martirano said it was “unfair” to students, staff and families, “to delay these improvements any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

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