Some parents in Scarborough worry a change in school start times will hurt their kids and are calling on the board to reconsider its decision.
Last April, the Board of Education voted to start the school day earlier for grades K-5 and later for middle and high school students. They decided it wouldn’t take effect until the 2018-2019 school year to give time to implement a plan and allow families to prepare.
Plans are now being put in place, but some parents are concerned.
Archer, 8, got off the bus after school on Friday, but next year he’ll be getting on 90 minutes earlier at 7 a.m., and his ride time will more than double from 20 minutes to 50.
“He’s already sorta fidgety anyway, and that early in the morning I think, is possibly problematic,” said his mom, Jillian Trapini-Huff.
It’s all because the school bell will be ringing earlier at the elementary schools. K-2 will change from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m.
“Much earlier,” Trapini-Huff said. “[There are] child care concerns, flip-flopping sleep schedules, reduced family time.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics says older kids should start school later because it better fits the natural sleep rhythms of adolescents.
“My kids were very against it,” Jennifer Cleary said. “They just didn’t understand it.”
She and her husband, David, have two kids in high school and think 8:50 is too late. High school students currently start at 7:30 a.m. They worry about the impact on athletics and after school jobs.
“Scarborough is just kind of just teeing up a big experiment with a lot of stakeholders impacted,” David Cleary said.
A Change.org petition with more than 500 signatures is asking the board to reconsider, but Chair Donna Beeley said this has been in the works for two-and-a-half years.
“You’ll never make everyone happy, and really it’s about our kids, what’s in the best interest of all of our kids,” Beeley said.
When it comes to the buses, she said, runs have to be adjusted to accommodate the schedule, but pick ups could be pushed back and rides shortened in the future.
“We may even be able to see some improvements on that in the fall as we get started the first couple months,” she said.
Beeley said at this point the new start times are a done deal. For the board, it’s really about putting the best possible plan in place to make it all work.
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