Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 04 December 2009 00:00
As noted in last week’s issue of The Roslyn News, an online survey conducted by the Roslyn School District, one that will help to determine if the start times at Roslyn schools will change, has generated parental concern.
And so, the district hosted a special forum about start times last Monday, one that took place at the Roslyn High School auditorium. Local residents were given the opportunity to receive additional background information and to voice their opinions about the issue.
Between 150 to 200 people showed up for the forum. Supervisor Dr. Dan Brenner started the evening with a slide show explaining the evolution of the issue. The rest of the evening was devoted to parents expressing their concerns and opinions on the revised pickup hours. Those in attendance generally agreed that high school students would benefit from later pickup hours, but many of them expressed concern that it would come at the expense of elementary school students.
Also at the meeting, the school district released the results of the online survey. The current pickup schedule has high school students being picked up first, followed by middle school and elementary school students. A second scenario would have Harbor Hill and East Hills students being picked up first, followed by high school students, and then students from the Heights school and the middle School. A third scenario would also have Harbor Hill and East Hills students picked up first. High school students would be picked up second, but at a slightly later time. A fourth scenario would have high school students being picked up last, behind both elementary and middle school students.
Fifty one percent voted for the first scenario, while 24 percent voted for the second scenario. Fifteen percent voted for the third scenario, and 9 percent for the fourth one.
At the present time, the board of education is not implementing the options listed on the online survey. Discussions on the issue will continue.
“Sometimes, no decision is better than a bad decision,” Clifford Saffron, the BOE’s vice president, told the media.
The school district 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.
The school district has acknowledged complications that could arise from earlier pickup times for adolescents, many of which have been echoed by local parents. That includes younger children waiting in the dark for early morning pickups, plus childcare problems.
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.
Neither the first or second scenario would incur extra costs to the district. According to school district officials, the third scenario would cost the district approximately $62,000, while the fourth scenario would cost the district an extra $148,000 and three part time bus drivers. School district officials said that any possible changes would go into effect no sooner than September 2010.