Letter: Board of Education should walk the talk

To the Editor:

Board of Education members unanimously agree that changing start times is necessary to protect student health. They have committed to “explore the feasibility of changing school start times” for 2018-19 (Ridgefield Public Schools press release, 3/3/17).

This is not enough. There is no commitment to implement, only to study feasibility. A study should have been completed long ago. For over a year the Board of Education has delayed action. We were led to believe a transportation study had begun before the contract was even signed.

Every day that students are forced to wake at an unhealthy time is a day that Ridgefield Public Schools is causing harm.

It is the Board of Education’s job to protect student “wellness of body and mind,” according to their mission statement. Not only when it is easy or convenient, but all of the time. Delaying implementation demonstrates to students that health is not a priority. It teaches that when change is challenging, even if it’s critically important, it is OK to put it off.

Dr. Dragseth, retired superintendent of Edina, Minn., was the first to implement healthy start times in 1996. He said it was “the most significant decision made as a superintendent to help high school students academically, emotionally and socially.”

Jeremy Ray, superintendent of Dayton, Maine, told his administrative team: “No excuses … when we have a problem you need to come back to me with a way to work this out.”

This is exactly the can-do attitude we expect from our leaders. Stop kicking the can down the road. It’s time to act.

With the budget vote looming, and confidence in Ridgefield Public Schools waning, I implore the Board of Education to change start times next year. Lead by example. Commit now to healthy start times for 2017/18.

To the Board of Education: It’s time to walk the talk. Ridgefield student health is in your hands.

Pam Hartnett