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Start Time Issue Goes Back to the BOE

School District Accepts Survey Results; Maintains Current Start Time Is ‘Flawed’

As reported in last week’s issue of The Roslyn News, the Roslyn School District personnel, including Superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner, held a public meeting to discuss possible changes in the bus pickup schedule for grade school, middle school, and high school students.

The district had proposed changes that would have had high school students picked up last, and elementary and middle school students picked up earlier. The proposed changes were inspired by studies that claimed that high school students need more sleep than their younger counterparts and that they perform better in school when they get that extra rest.

The school district also conducted an online survey to gauge public opinion on the proposed changes. At the Nov. 30 meeting, the district revealed that 51 percent of all participants voted to keep the current pickup times. In addition, an opposition to any changes was mounted bya group of local parents. After the meeting, the school district issued their own statement of the matter.

“The school district thanks members of the community for their participation in the start time survey, and greatly appreciates the thoughtful input provided by the parents who attended the forum on Nov. 30,” the statement read. “We recognize that each of the options in the survey is imperfect, and do not plan to implement any of them as presented. However, we also acknowledge that the current school start time configuration is also flawed and is not serving the needs of our high school students as we would like. The board has asked administration to review the issue to see if additional options can be identified that would address concerns about the high school schedule without adversely affecting the other schools.”

Specifically, the proposed changes would have had high school students arriving at school at hours ranging from 8 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. Currently, they arrive at 7:30 a.m. Similarly, the arrival hours for East Hills and Harbor Hill students would have been as different as 7:30 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. Heights School students would see arrival times changed from 9:05 a.m. to either 8:10 a.m. or 8:20 a.m. Middle School students would arrive at 8:30 a.m., 8:40 a.m., or 8:10 a.m. Since these were projected arrival times, the actual pickup hours would be earlier.

The school district, as noted, was considering such changes based on research that contends that teenagers need more sleep than pre-adolescents and that adolescents who are deprived of sleep may perform poorly in school, while also suffering from depression.

Earlier, at the Nov. 19 board of education meeting, a group of eight parents presented a letter to the BOE, one detailing their opposition to any changes in the pickup schedule. That letter listed such concerns as safety and liability, school performance by both teachers and students, childcare, and the effect on family life. The parents also called for a cost analysis on the proposed change, for hiring a transportation specialist to look at the busing system, for commissioning a study to prove the beneficial effects on elementary school students with a 7:30 a.m. or 7:40 a.m. start time, and to develop an alternative plan.