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Child care, extracurriculars remain barrier to later start times

Herald Bulletin - 5/15/2019

May 14-- May 14--ANDERSON -- Few schools or districts in Madison County or the surrounding communities have adjusted their start times to accommodate the biological clocks of their teenage students.

Frankton-Lapel Community Schools appears to be one that, at 8:20 a.m., is closest to the 8:30 a.m. start time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

South Madison Community Schools Superintendent Joe Buck said district officials have considered a move from 7:25 a.m. to a later time for middle and high school students but met with resistance from parents. The district operates its buses on a double route system in which the older students are picked up and released an hour earlier than elementary students.

"Prior to going to the double run routes in 2007, a survey was conducted, and parents that work, wanted their older children home first in the afternoon, so they could get their younger siblings off of the bus and be with them until the parents get home from work," he said.

Paul Garrison, superintendent at Daleville Community Schools, said his schools start at 7:55 a.m., but he is open to the idea of a later start time. But there are many stakeholders to consider.

"My preliminary plan would be to gather public and staff input into that idea next school year and consider it as a possibility for the 2020-2021 school year," he said. "We also send students to career centers in both Anderson and Muncie, so next year we would also gather input from those venues to determine any affect a change in our schedule might have on those services to our students. As we hold membership in the Special Education Cooperative of Blackford and Delaware County, we would also need to discuss it with our fellow members there. In that scenario we would most likely keep the same schedule as now for next year."

Because of transportation considerations, the times for the elementary school also would need to be adjusted Garrison said.

"Another benefit in the winter months is that we would be 30 minutes closer to sunrise and daylight when our bus routes would begin," he said.

Other considerations, he and other superintendents said, are before and after school child care needs and extracurricular activities and sports.

"I agree with the AAP recommendations, however, if we were to start later, we would have to dismiss later and this runs into after-school activities," said Liberty Christian School Superintendent Jay McCurry. "For those students participating in athletics/extracurricular activities, it would make it extremely late for them to get home at night."

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