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.