Survey: Most oppose school time change

Parents, students and staff have spoken — by virtue of survey — and they say the district does not need to pursue revising school start times any further.

That was the universal opinion the Board of Education received Monday night from a survey it generated last month that proposed flipping the high school and middle school start times and dropping from a four-tier bus system to a three-tier system.

The change would have cost the district an additional $480,000 per year.

“What totally surprised me, and what really stood out, is the fact that 81% of high school students responded that they want us to stick with the current system,” said Superintendent Deborah Low.

“A majority of the kids also felt that a later start time would negatively affect their willingness to participate in clubs and athletics, as well as jobs and community service, which I think is really important to look at.”

The survey yielded a 70% responses rate, with 2,154 out of 3,078 families in the district filling out the electronic inquiry.

“This must be a hot topic in town,” Ms. Low joked.

The survey was emailed after a board meeting on Nov. 12 with the same questions — how important is the issue of school start times to you personally and what do you recommend the district do — going to every group polled.

However, in calculating the responses, the district did allow for the data to be broken down into subgroups.

Three sections of parents — elementary, middle and high school — were polled, while two sets of staff — kindergarten through eighth grade, and high school — were asked additional questions related to their specific subgroup.

RHS students were the only students in the district surveyed and they produced the lowest response rate, with 803 students, or 45%, participating in the survey.

“The seniors didn’t really seem to care about what happens now that they’re college-bound at the end of the year,” Ms. Low said.

The responding students were adamant about not changing the high school start time, though, with 57% saying that the issue was either somewhat important or not important and 81%, or 654 students, voting to stay with the current schedule.

Additionally, 66% and 74% of students felt that the high school starting at 8 a.m. would negatively affect athletic participation and their ability to complete homework, respectively.

The high school’s staff, which had a 63% response rate, echoed the same sentiment, with 87% of RHS staff voting to remain with the current schedule.

When asked specifically about how the additional 35 minutes would benefit a student’s sleep pattern, only 21 of the 135 staff members, or 16%, said the later start time would benefit students.

The K-8 staff was less decisive in its response, but still had 61% of staff members vote to stay with the four-tier system.

“The results speak for themselves,” said board member Richard Steinhart. “I’m also surprised at how overwhelmingly opposed the high school kids were — it’s not shocking to hear that the staff, at all levels, doesn’t favor a change.”

As for the parents, the response rate was above 65% at all three levels — 84% at the middle school level — with 58% of all parents approving the current model.

Middle school parents had the closest gap of any subgroup that was surveyed, with 53% in favor of making no change and 47% for the adoption of the proposed model, which would have East Ridge and Scotts Ridge start at 7:25 a.m.

None of the six subgroups was in favor of the proposal, but a majority of 614 parents checked off that the issue was “very important.”

Nonetheless, the lopsided results allowed the board to finally shut down its two-month-long discussion of school start times — the third debate it’s held about the subject in recent years.

Later in the meeting, the board members voted unanimously to approve the 2014-15 district priorities — not including the revision of school start times and bus tier system that had been a part of the draft submitted to the board Nov. 25.

“It’s time we move ahead with the priorities so we can begin the budget process,” Ms. Low concluded.

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

  • David

    I’m glad to see this discussion ended. I think spending $480,000 for a 35 minute change would be a terrible waste of money. There was also wrong information being given to the public about the benefits. I’m surprised the BOE would even bring this to the public.

    From the layman’s point of view, I’m seeing a few troublesome ideas coming from the BOE and the town.

    Is open campus a good idea? Other towns are trying to turn off their open campus. We are turning ours on. How did open campus go in the first year? Not so good huh.

    Is turning on cell phone service in the classrooms a good idea? Other towns are trying to stop cell service in their high schools. We are turning ours on. A student recently wrote an editorial about how cheating is out of control at the high school, with students using their cell phones to store test answers and then surreptitiously using their cell phones during a test. . Imagine how cheating will advance if those cell phones now have internet access.

    Then there’s common core. I wonder if it would be all around better for Ridgeifeld to opt out. We’d lose some funding from the state. But we might actually come out financially ahead, as well as academically miles ahead. It is proving to be costly to implement common core e.g. new textbooks. And I strongly suspect that in two years, when the new federal administration cancels common core, it will be costly to undo the program because we’ll have to buy yet another set of new textbooks.

    Lots of troublesome things going on with education these days, including some we can’t mention yet.

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. The Ridgefield Press, 16 Bailey Avenue, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress