Greenfield School District Decides to Keep School Start Times the Same

The School Board rejected two proposals Monday after months of debate.

After months of debate, the Greenfield School Board voted to not change the district’s school start times Monday, citing the price tag of $208,000 for the new busing routes as the chief concern for not moving forward.

Greenfield’s school start times have been a hot topic with the .

Over the last several months, concerns about the start time’s impact on extra-curricular participation, after-school jobs and families that rely on older students watching younger siblings were all mentioned as cons of the proposed time changes.

But Monday, money was the crux of the problem.

“I’m concerned about the $208,000 price tag, especially when we’re looking at the drastic cuts we’ll be receiving from the state this year and next year,” said board member Don Carlson, who proposed the money be spent on a social worker. “I’m glad to see there is money available, but I’d like to see that spent on programs or individuals who are working directly with students.”

The high school starts at 7:10 a.m. and dismisses at 2:21 p.m. The middle school begins at 7:42 a.m. and ends at 2:53 p.m. Edgewood, and Glenwood, two of the district’s four elementary schools, begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:26 p.m., while the other two, Elm Dale and Maple Grove, begin at 9:15 a.m. and end at 3:56 p.m.

The administration offered its final proposals Monday. Option A called for the high school to begin at 8:10 a.m., the middle school to start at 8:25 a.m. and all four elementary schools to start at 7:30 a.m.

Board member Dave Richlen did not like the idea of having elementary school students standing outside for buses so early in the morning to get to school by 7:30 a.m.

“I’m just wondering how many parents want their kids standing out at a bus stop, in the dark, in the middle of winter waiting to get on the bus,” he said. “That’s a very big concern for me.”

Option B called for the middle school to start the earliest at 7:30 a.m., followed by the high school at 7:45 a.m. and the elementary schools at 8:45 a.m.

Board member Rick Moze voted in favor of Option B, which was seconded by Pam Sierzchulski but received no other votes.

“I know it’s going to cost us $200,000 but I think in the long run, in my opinion, it will pay off,” Moze said.

Option A did not receive any votes.

Money was available 

Last month, the administration proposed the cost be covered by the $300,000 buildings and grounds budget. On Monday, Superintendent Conrad Farner offered another proposal that pulled money from multiple budgets.

But regardless of where the money came from, the board decided it was not the time to spend it.

“In this day and age, we don’t know what the state is going to do on our school system and what kind of state aid we’re looking at,” board president Bruce Bailey said. “To spend another $200,000 on busing, it doesn’t sit right with me at this time.”

Early start times detrimental to students?

According to Dolores Skowronek, who served on the Greenfield Ad Hoc School Start Time Committee, Greenfield High School has the earliest start time in the state and has a major issue with tardiness.

As of April 20, the high school had 7,180 cases of unexcused first-hour tardies. Last year, there were 7,500 for the entire school year, preceded by 7,228 in 2008-09 and 7,956 in 2007-08.

“This causes disruptions from students who come to class late, it uses up considerable staff time, and based on what I read, it contributes to lower high school completion rates for at-risk students,” Skowronek said. “And in case you haven’t seen the latest DPI data, is ... pathetic.”

Former board member Cathy Walsh agreed.

“You can’t teach a student if they’re not in class,” she said. “Some of you have said, and I’ve probably said it in the past as well, how can we afford this, or that the district can’t afford to make this change. I want to suggest you can’t afford not to.”

In other board business:

  • Greenfield Middle School student Jaden Troglia was awarded a certificate of excellence for being a recipient of a Wisconsin State Fair Young Artists Award. Troglia artwork, made of recycled household objects, was one of 85 award-winning pieces out of approximately 480 submissions. Her artwork will be on display in the Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center during State Fair’s run this summer.
  • The board also approved a proposal to allow the district to accept credit card payments for registration for the 2011-12 school year.
s3jn May 10, 2011 at 04:30 PM
I do think they made the right decision. Regardless of their tardiness to 1st hour, I'd rather have the high school studens standing for the busses at 6:30am vs young children doing so.
Parent of a High School Student May 10, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Delores needs to spend a week at the high school and pay attention to who is tardy almost on a daily basis. It has nothing to do with the start times. It has to do with students stopping at Starbucks or other places to buy coffee. If she thinks that students will get more sleep if we start later she is delusional. Students will probably get less sleep because they know they won't have to get up so early. We only start 10 minutes earlier than most high schools and if she thinks that 10 minutes is going make a big difference she is wrong. She has been on this bandwagon for years and I think it's because she doesn't want her sons to start so early. Thank goodness the school board had the sense to vote against the earlier start times. The disruption to peoples lives (except Delores') was to expensive in both time and money
4 Greenfield May 10, 2011 at 07:28 PM
I mistakenly thought that the Greenfield School Board was serious about raising test scores, improving graduation rates and, in general, cutting down on disruptions in the classroom, such as excessive tardiness and absentiism. If they are not willing to change the school start times which are the earliest in the state for the high school, and the latest in the state for two elementary schools, then I want to know what their plan is for turning around the district because no amount of money spent in the classroom will matter if the students are not there to receive the educational tools that Greenfield is willing and able to provide them. Congratulations to Moze and Sierzchulski for taking the time to understand the research on this issue and being brave enough to stand up for what is best for kids. Sometimes what is best is not what is popular.
The Big Cat May 10, 2011 at 09:12 PM
A High School start time of 7:10 am is just too early for these kids. Study after study shows they do better with more sleep. This just flies in the face of common sense.
read you will May 10, 2011 at 10:46 PM
It is NOT true that GHS starts just 10 minutes earlier than most high schools. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, only 2% of Wisconsin high schools start within 10 minutes of Greenfield High School. Don’t believe it? Look it up. If you’re going to bash someone – at least have correct information. Here are some more numbers to think about: as of April 20, GHS had 7,180 tardies. At an average of 43 per day, GHS is on track for logging more than 8,300 tardies this school year. You don’t have to spend a week in the high school to realize that our start times contribute to that. What a waste of tax dollars. It makes more sense to have these kids in school learning. Will a 10 minute change make a difference? Probably not, but a 10 minute change was never proposed for the high school. Mr. Farner listened to the medical experts and proposed a change of at least 35 minutes. Too bad the board ignored the recommendations of two physicians who are board certified in sleep medicine. Guess those doctors just weren’t smart enough for most members of our board. FYI, at least someone is willing to ride the band wagon for our kids – and the best way to keep someone on their bandwagon is to fuel their fire with misinformation and personal attacks.
Greenfield Resident Too! May 11, 2011 at 12:07 PM
It has been given great consideration from all sides about the changing of times. Yes, it MIGHT be advantageous for the times to be changed but who is affected but the younger students and the annual costs of $200,000 taken from the building and grounds budget. Other wish lists items that are needed in our schools are more teachers, counselors, more textbooks, computers; these ideas being brought to the table are never given another thought. It is never a WIN, WIN situation. However, I am very confused how Mr. Farner can remove money from one budget to budget another and I wonder how lean the department budgets are really set up...just a thought!
4 Greenfield May 11, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Get your facts straight. $200000 wasn't being taken all from the building and grounds budget- it was spread pretty evenly throughout the budget so there wouldn't be as big an impact. Also, it was said that if they had another good year with the self-insured health insurance portion of their budget, there may be even less impact. Again, doesn't matter what is spent on teachers and tools if the students are still home in their beds. Also, the options had either the middle school Or the elementary kids starting at 7:30am with the first bus stop at 7:00am.
read you will May 11, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Not true. A time change WOULD be advantageous to all. Read the research, talk to the medical experts. Currently, many grade school kids with working parents are in morning day care - some as early as 6:00 am. That’s a full 3 hours and 15 minutes before the 9:15 start at Elm Dale and Maple Grove (the latest in Wisconsin). By the time school starts, these kids are ready for a nap or lunch. They are not ready to learn. Another waste of tax dollars. So… would they be affected by a change? Yes – but in a good way. As for the older kids. Later start times would improve tardiness and high school completion rates – especially for the at risk students. These are the kids that NO ONE seems to care about. Guess what? If these kids don’t graduate, they won’t find jobs and they won’t contribute to the tax base of our community when we are old and grey. That’s our future and it’s not pretty. Like it or not, we have a responsibility to educate all of our children. This could be a WIN - WIN situation if our community would acknowledge the facts. Also, for those who weren’t at this week’s meeting – you should know that the board was not against spending the money. They actually talked about spending it on other things. As a taxpayer, that really bothers me. They should stop micromanaging our district administrators. We pay for our administrator’s expertise – not the opinions of board members without degrees in elementary or secondary education.
Greenfield Resident Too! May 11, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Read you will and Greenfield Homeowner, thanks for the lecture. I am just going by information from watching the school board meetings on the TV ($200,000 from buidlings and grounds was stated by Mr. Farner in a previous meeting), maybe you two have a little bit more inside information from sources that I do not have. Belittling people is wrong. I hope you do not work for the school district with all your "facts" as I would be scared that you would not have students have their own opinions nor let them speak for themselves. Done.
hsmsparent May 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Thank God can we now put this to rest after all these years of fact finding missions and research can we finally put this issue to rest. Leave well enough alone. It is up to the parents or guardians, or the students to get themselves to school. More sleep is not going to get them to school. If they don't want to be there they are not going to be there. There are far more pressing issues with this district that need to be attended to or we are going to end up having no school district. The times have failed everytime they were brought up now leave it rest.
4 Greenfield May 11, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I surely hope that Greenfield teachers teach the students to gather the facts first, then form their opinions. I also hope that this matter is not put to rest, since excessive tardiness and absenteeism hurts all students, even the one who have responsible parents or guardians. Again, where is the school board plan to reduce tardiness and absenteeism, since obviously they can't agree to change school start times?
Concerned Greenfield Resident May 18, 2011 at 12:12 PM
If the day starts later for a high school student, it only follows that they will stay up later at night. A student who is habitually tardy or absent will continue that pattern no matter what time school starts. And what are we teaching our students? Will an employer of a GHS graduate allow him/her to delay their starting time for work in order to accommodate their sleeping schedule? I am amazed that Mr. Farner was able to "find" money in the school district's budget to back a plan that had little merit and was being propelled by someone on a crusade. Kudos to the school board for standing firm and not being swayed by a small interest group.
4 Greenfield May 18, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Number 1: Although it may seem logical that students would stay up later if school start times are later, studies of schools where they shifted to a later start time show that the majority of students got more sleep, decreased tardiness and showed fewer behavior problems; so in this case, logic does not prevail. Number 2: Adult workers who are night owls often pursue second or third shift jobs to accommodate their sleep patterns. Number 3: The plan presented by the adhoc committee had great merit considering the costly problems caused by excessive tardiness and absenteeism at the high school, which affect all students either directly or indirectly. Number 4: Although one person initially brought this issue forward, many parents spoke on behalf of the needed changes at the board meetings.
read you will May 18, 2011 at 09:37 PM
You fail to mention that the plan also addressed start time issues in the elementary schools – not just the high school. Is a plan that addresses the elementary schools also without merit? Or are the younger students as unimportant as the older ones? While I agree that the board shouldn’t be swayed simply because someone is on a crusade – they should be swayed by the facts. In this case they were presented with a superintendent’s recommendation, credible research evidence, advice from medical experts, a recommendation from the ad hoc committee, and compelling data on tardiness and high school completion rates at our high school. All this was ignored and that’s wrong.
David Pettersen January 09, 2012 at 11:12 PM
This is so true. I go to Greenfield High School. It's the parents job to get their kid off to school. Delores needs to stop because this start time is working for us, it allows us to have a longer evening since we get off earlier. She's been trying for years, she's getting no where. Also, some people could get stuck in traffic if they make the start time later.
snow white March 13, 2012 at 05:29 AM
i think that the high schools should start at least 8:15 and the middle school at 8:30 and elemetary at 8:45 so older siblings take care of younger siblings


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