Board to decide on later start times in October

Will start times at Ridgefield High School be later in 2018-19? The Board of Education will have an answer by the end of October 2017.

That was the decision made at Monday night’s board meeting, which marked the conclusion of a yearlong discussion that featured several petitions, hours of public debate and a handful of focus groups this spring.

And now the community will have to wait until fall, when the board sends out surveys to further gauge how parents, students and administrators feel about possibly making the change.

Cha-ching

With the official decision date set in five months, the board intends to hire a second consultant — a Connecticut educational service center called EdAdvance — to be the project manager of district-wide movement. 

The firm has not signed a contract with Ridgefield Public Schools yet.

The firm Edulog, which the Board of Education is looking to replace, has been studying bus routes and transportation. The board has been in conversations with School Bus Consultants to take over this task and use the “clean” data assembled previously from Edulog.

“I think that Edulog is seeing the impediments instead of the opportunities to look at it for success because of their [less flexible, concrete] software,” said Superintendent Karen Baldwin Monday night, explaining that Edulog didn’t deliver satisfactory results.

Reversing the clock

Six people spoke at the meeting in favor of changing start times, but four of them were elementary school parents who advocated for a change to an earlier time for three of the elementary schools — Veterans Park, Barlow Mountain and Farmingville — which are currently starting at 9:10.

“I wanted the elementary schools to not be forgotten,” parent Mara Martin told the board.

“The Veterans Park start time is just too late,” she said. “They’re [children] missing prime learning hours early in the morning.”

Timeline

The board will present four options — including one for no change to start times — to the community in September before making its decision the following month.

A new committee, the School Start Time Steering Committee, will lead the research, surveying, and communications with the community and EdAdvance, and launch a new start times website.

It will report back to the board monthly.

Here is the link to the website: http://www.ridgefield.org/School-Start-Times-Project