Letter: Are we really still talking about this?

To the Editor:

Facts from a "School Start Times" article in both the online version of the Ridgefield Press dated 11/2/18 and the printed version on 11/8/18:

  • Both the 2013 & 2018 board surveys showed parents, students and staff clearly aligned against moving start times.

  • Dr. Miller, who was tapped to head the later start time project by the board, was quoted as saying that "We analyzed over 25 (later school start time) scenarios" and several of them were never brought forward because they did not meet the district's time constraints.

  • New bus plans have to take a lot of nuances specific to your community into account, in fact, some of this year's bus route changes (intended to create efficiencies) have not panned out to the extent that a bus had to be added back into the fleet that it had cut….to the tune of an additional $90,000 that was not in the budget.

  • Board Chairwoman Fran Walton said the cost of moving to start times that met the board's criteria could cost as much as $1.8 million.

Are we really still talking about this? What kind of presumptuous agenda is this board pursuing as they boldly ignore the parents, students and teachers that they have volunteered to support and represent? What other vital educational programs or teachers would be compromised in order to pay for the inevitable additional expense of revised bus routing plans? What other unintended consequences will result for our children as they get out of school with hardly any daylight left in the winter months, still having to make sports practice, extracurricular activities and finish homework? Can the board please move on from the distraction of school start times and get back to governing and administering pertinent educational things that matter?

A supporter of later school start times was quoted as saying that "Ridgefield should be a leader in the health and well being of all of our students." No one disagrees.

But our students are our children first and foremost. And my wife and I, as a parents, are responsible for the health and well-being of our children. That starts by imposing restrictions and healthy habits in our home…limited screen time, efficient and disciplined homework routines, chores, church, sit down dinners that include conversation, spending quality time with family and instilling healthy diet and exercise habits. We criticize when necessary and praise when deserved. And, we impose strict bed times! Bed times that inherently allow our children to get the amount of sleep (and the quality of sleep) that they need to remain healthy. The health and well being our children (our students) starts right in our own homes and no board agenda item can ever take the place of good old fashioned parenting. Let us be parents…let us manage the health and well being of our kids.

I understand that our Board of Education is like all well intentioned organizations. They want to be thought leaders, progressive in their agenda, providing the most current leadership and guidance possible in keeping up with the very competitive schools in lower Fairfield County. I both encourage and support those intentions. I only suggest that their progressive agenda focus more on core educational issues.

Perhaps the Board of Education should spend their efforts to educate the community about proper sleep, nutrition and exercise - as it fulfills its stated objective of prompting wellness of body and mind – then let us parents manage our children, teaching them (along with the rest of the community) to make healthy choices.

Enough is enough. This Board obviously needs to hear from many more rational members of this community to finally understand that changing school start times is not wanted and not necessary. Take one minute to send a simple email to the Board of Education at boardofed@ridgefieldps.net — before it’s too late 

Mike Mignano

Evergreen Place, Nov. 15