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School start times to stay the same

May 12, 2009

After all the debate over changing the start times at Greenfield schools, the School Board decided Monday that start times will stay as they are.

In the 2009-10 school year, Greenfield High School will continue to start at 7:10 a.m., the middle school at 7:42 a.m., Edgewood and Glenwood elementary schools at 8:40 a.m., and Elm Dale and Maple Grove elementary schools at 9:10 a.m.

The School Board last night voted 4-3 - with Donald Almquist, Audrey Ellison, Julie Rome and Bruce Bailey in favor and Cathy Walsh, Rick Moze and Pam Sierzchulski opposed - to maintain the status quo.

Administrators had proposed pushing back the start time at the high school to allow students more sleep, which officials thought would improve students' academic performance.

They also wanted the district's four elementary schools to start at the same time so that teachers could collaborate with each other - which, in turn, could help elementary students in the classroom, Superintendent Conrad Farner said.

There were three proposals to accomplish those goals, and, despite Monday's vote, the district will continue to study an option that has the high school beginning at 7:45 a.m. and the elementary school at 8:45 a.m.

"We have a responsibility to come to the board with recommendations that we believe will improve student learning," Farner said.

Parents who spoke at School Board meetings worried about pairing middle- and high-schoolers together on the same bus. A change in the busing tiers would have been one of the results of the change, and some parents believed it would lead to more bullying.

Board member Bruce Bailey, meanwhile, said he voted against the proposal largely because of the $133,000 cost to change the busing tiers.

Since the April 27 School Board meeting, when the scheduling change was officially proposed, parents were surveyed online about their opinions on a scheduling change.

Results were mixed, and the district received only a 14 percent response rate, which led some board members and administrators to question whether the results were representative of families' opinions.

On whether the schools should keep the current start times or have new ones, parents were basically split down the middle, Farner said.

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