School board: Start times switch takes time

Parents demanding later start times at Ridgefield High School might not be happy with all the delays from the Board of Education this spring, but according to one member who traveled to a national conference on the topic last month, playing the waiting game is just part of the process.

“One district said any change requires three to five years to institutionalize,” said board member Margaret Stamatis at a May 8 meeting.

Stamatis, who attended the National Adolescent Sleep, Health, and School Start Times Conference in Washington, D.C., at the end of April, warned her fellow board members that making the switch too quickly could hurt the district.

“One school district tried to change and had to change back because they tried to do it too quickly,” she said.

Stamatis stressed that Ridgefield should take its time reviewing the data.

Administrators and board members have completed focus groups with parents, teachers, principals, and students, and surveys will follow.

“This is a slice of information that can help generate stock questions for the areas that we probed,” said Superintendent Karen Baldwin.

The board’s strategic planning subcommittee will present its formal report from the focus groups, with a timeline outlining next steps, at the Board of Education meeting Monday, May 22.

Edulog study

Baldwin said transportation costs needed to be assessed before a survey is sent out.

“We need transportation to be in a place where the board feels comfortable probing it,” she said May 8.

Edulog, the Montana-based transportation firm hired for $20,000 back in February, has been tasked with coming up with how later start times could impact Ridgefield’s bus routes.

A preliminary report from Edulog has been dismissed and sent back. 

Board Chair Fran Walton said the rejected report needs to be revisited.

“If you’re not sure that it’s good data, you’re not going to use it,” she told The Press.

“Dr. Baldwin was going to talk to them [Edulog] about doing more work.”

Stamatis said that a back-and-forth with transportation consultants was common practice for all the districts that have made the change.

“The results show there is more work that can be done,” the Edulog study said.

The printed version of this story had given estimated costs for pushing back the high school's start time. Those numbers are not being considered by the Board of Education.