Later start times at school

school clock SQTuesday morning, as the Onteora Central School District board of education was anticipating its meeting that same evening, it was 12 degrees below zero at 6:45 a.m. The sun was barely visible and middle school and high school students were making their way to bus stops, some underdressed with wet hair (if you know teenagers…), all, I’m sure, enthusiastically anticipating preparation for the latest state testing…

Now 12 below may seem extreme, but this year has told us a different story, right? Temperatures in the minuses have become daily occurrences this year and who knows what the future might bring.

For those reasons alone, pushing the Onteora Middle/High School starting times back from the current 7:40 a.m. to somewhere around 8:30 a.m. is a fine idea. Try it…you stand out there and wait for a bus…

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Of course there are more reasons. And the Onteora School Board appears to be approaching the subject in the proper fashion. It heard from a superintendent who’s district has done it. He describe the deliberate, thoughtful process that allowed Glens Falls to arrive at the conclusion and execute it. And he talked about the reasons why people don’t want it to happen, all very real concerns, items dealing with child care, changes in work schedules.

But the students do better. They get more sleep, their bodies are better attuned to the hours, not only culturally, but, apparently, biologically. The other districts that have successfully done it have found it workable with after school sports and other activities.

It can be a difficult process. But as described, being open, taking it slow, dealing with the problems that might arise in a rational fashion, a school board might be able to get there.

We strongly support beginning this process and seeing where it leads. We believe that it is a good idea, if it can be achieved through consensus. It was a long time ago (ok, a loooong time ago), but I can clearly remember the absolute agony of getting up and out very early on a freezing morning and waiting for the bus. Not so longer ago, my kids did, too. Oh sure, we all did it. Was it a character building process? Well…c’mon. The point is to do better in school, to get more out of this education for which we all are paying. Changing the schedule is a value issue, as in, we’ll get more value for our dollars by doing it.

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