‘I Am Being Put in a Very Difficult Position’: Board of Ed Divided on Proposed School Start Times Scenario
Board of Education members are divided as to whether they have enough feedback and information on a revised school start times schedule to recommend this month that hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending for additional buses be included in a proposed budget for next fiscal year. No one disagrees that starting grades seven through 12 at 8:30 a.m. as opposed to 7:30 a.m. would benefit students in important ways—established medical research recommends later start times for adolescents.
Under a favored scenario that district officials have developed, New Canaan’s elementary schools would start at 7:45 a.m., though because morning buses could start their routes from the geographically distributed neighborhood schools rather than New Canaan High School, the first student wouldn’t need to be picked up until 7:06 a.m. (currently 6:27 a.m.) when it’s sufficiently light outside that flashlights aren’t needed.
Yet that proposed new schedule also forces a bus usage system that’s far less efficient than the one New Canaan Public Schools now employs, and it would require about six or seven additional buses—at a clip of $100,000 in additional annual spending, per bus—to make the favored start times scenario work. Board of Ed member Dionna Carlson at the elected body’s Dec. 16 meeting called it “a very expensive option that will go up 3% every year, in perpetuity.”
A similar start times scenario garnered low levels of support in surveys conducted earlier this year, she said, and there are unanswered questions about just how it will affect students seeking extra help from teachers, among other concerns. To include funding for the busing system as part of the school board’s Jan.