Letter: We can all adjust to a new schedule

To the Editor:

There aren’t two “sides” to the issue of healthy start times for our schools. We all know our current start times are not healthy. Adolescents’ early start time exposes them to depression, athletic injuries, and risky decision-making. Elementary kids get to school after they are ready to learn and get home too late to play. It’s no big revelation that logistics will change when healthy start times come to Ridgefield. We can all adjust. The scenarios presented for opinion polling are not final. The start and end times are based on outdated bus data. It’s clear from the many empty buses that our routes are not optimized. After the vote to implement, our new logistics company will start from scratch and optimize our routes, which will allow for tweaks to improve start times for all levels. The price tags attached to the scenarios aren’t final, either, because the district is negotiating a new bus contract for next year. The 400+ successful districts that have implemented healthy start times followed this procedure: First, the BOE votes yes on the concept that adolescents need to sleep later and elementary students need to get home earlier. Then, gather accurate ridership data, optimize bus routes and negotiate a new bus contract to derive the optimal times and price tag.

Everyone will adjust to a new schedule and our adolescents will have higher academic achievement, less depression and anxiety, and fewer sports injuries. Younger students will get home in the sunlight with enough time to play and be kids. Seat belts, car seats, smoke-free schools — these are changes we made for health and safety — adjustments to the status quo that made a real difference. We all want healthy, vibrant, educated children who have every opportunity to succeed in the world.

Karen Sulzinsky

Great Pond Road, Oct. 19