School Start Times: Board of Ed Debates Whether To Include Expensive ‘Two-Tiered’ Busing System in Survey
Board of Education members on Monday night debated whether to remove an expensive option to start school times later from a survey of the school and wider community that is to go out next week. It would cost an estimated $1.2 million to $1.4 million annually beyond what New Canaan currently pays for its “three-tiered” busing system (about $3.2 million per year) to switch to a “two-tiered” option that would require more buses to get kids to school.
Whereas the public schools currently start between 7:30 and 9 a.m., the two-tiered option—the most expensive presented by a consultant in November—would see all of Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School start at 8:15 a.m. while all three elementary schools would start at 9:10 a.m.
Noting that the district doesn’t yet know what its spending request for fiscal year 2021 will be, Board of Ed Chairman Brendan Hayes said that if “we think we are going to reallocate $1 million of our budget into a two-tier system and we decide that it’s in the best interests of students to remove that $1 million from two or three programs—and we think because of all the work that we have done, with the administration, that that is the absolute best thing that we can do for all of the students in New Canaan—then that is what it is.”
“That is what we should bring forward,” he said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We may decide that we want to increase the budget by that incremental $1.3 million and we can explain to everybody in town why we are doing that, why it is the absolute best thing for all the kids in town,” Hayes added. “And it may be the Town Council and Board of Finance disagree with us and say, ‘You’ve to cut $1.3 million.’ OK, then we are not making that change.