by Ellin Walsh
Cuyahoga Falls -- On June 28, City School Superintendent Dr. Edwin S. Holland will ask the Board of Education to endorse new starting and ending times for the district's schools. One Falls High student who would be affected by the change spoke against it during the May 16 Board of Education meeting.
As proposed, the revised times, which would take effect for the 2007-08 school year, are: 8:45 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. for elementary school students; 7:55 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. for middle school students; and 7:45 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. for high school students.
The current schedule for elementary students is 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Middle school students presently attend classes from 8:30 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. and the high school day runs from 8 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
Meeting busing demands and increasing instructional time are the district's goals, according to Holland.
Holland said district officials have seen transportation-related problems escalate, particularly following the closure of Sill Middle School in June 2005. Holland said there is a small window of time between the starting and ending times for the elementary and middle schools, and added there has been an increase in the number of students in the middle schools who are eligible for transportation.
Saying studies have shown later start times to be more beneficial to sleep-starved teenagers, Falls High School junior Anthony Gomez argued against beginning classes 15 minutes earlier.
"I believe the business of busing is being placed before the educational needs of my fellow students and myself," Gomez said.
Holland disagreed, saying a proposal to alter school start times had been revamped several times after district officials received public feedback on the issue.
"We listened to the parents' concerns," Holland said, "We tried to find an equitable change in the start and ending times ... across the system and for the community as well."
Holland also reported the district's move into a new athletic conference involves more travel time for student-athletes. By ending the high school day earlier, the superintendent said, the amount of time student athletes are out of the classroom would be reduced.