May 9, 2008

It's about time... more ways than one.

Superintendent Ronald Blocker of Orange County Public Schools is recommending that the district swap the start times of middle schools (which currently start at 9:30 a.m.) with high schools (which currently start at 7:20 a.m.)

And, you might well ask, why don't all the schools start at the same time?

Because that would require more buses. As it is now, the same bus that takes the elementary students to school turns around and then makes a second trip to gather the middle schoolers and take them to school.

Mind you, some teachers and parents have spent years clamoring for a later high school start time. Multiple studies have shown that teenagers do not perform well in the mornings. They need more sleep than younger children, and on a different cycle.

Of course, such a change couldn't be made only because it would be good for students.

No, it took $124 a barrel oil and a massive state budget cut for the district to consider a change.

And what a sensible change it is, too. Here's a quote from the district's report on the subject:

"The current schedule prohibits a significant number of buses from making three trips each morning and afternoon. Some only make two trips. Why? Because high school zones are so big they cannot complete their routes and be at bus stops in time to pick up elementary students. The flip allows all buses to run three trips."

The district's full report is available here.

So because the buses will be used more efficiently, the district can cover the same ground with fewer vehicles, saving several million dollars a year.

There are those who have concerns about after-school athletics and jobs. But the No. 1 objective of the school district is to educate students. Therefore a move that will improve classroom performance and save money must be given priority over extracurricular activities. Anything else would be both fiscally and educationally irresponsible.

I realize not all parents in the district will agree with me. Regardless of your opinion, please share it with your school board member. The board will vote on this matter May 13. Board members, with links to their e-mail addresses, are listed here.

1 comment:

  1. it'll be interesting to see how this affects things in our family's life. Step-daughter's mother is NOT a morning person. She already has a hard time getting Step-daughter to school on time, and frequently has Grandma just come over and take care of all that.

    But, Grandma is not on our side of town at the new hour, as she retrieves her other grandchild in the mornings to babysit all day.

    As for us, we never get to take Step-daughter to school because it starts so late. Next year, however, she'll be in middle school. We'll be able to take her on our way to work. (and Grandma will not, see above)

    And, it looks like Step-daughter will be attending your son's school even though she's zoned elsewhere.