2018-04-06 / Letters

Compromise needed in school start time talks

To the editor:

This letter is not to dispute the many articles written and studies performed about the needs of adolescents to start school later than 8:30 a.m. Unfortunately, the proposed school start time plan in Scarborough addresses the sleep needs of our adolescent students and disregards the sleep needs of our younger children.

In a perfect world, all schools could start on or after 8:30 a.m. Unfortunately, given the budgetary constraints in Scarborough, the geographical size, location of the schools – it is not possible. So we must make a compromise. One that considers all the science including the sleep needs of our younger children.

I believe that it would be in the best interest of Scarborough to seek a compromise. A compromise looks like option 2 that the board considered in April 2017 and as discussed at the workshop on March 12, 2018. While I understand this plan does not meet the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommendation that Middle and High School should start after 8:30 a.m., 8 a.m. is much closer to that recommendation than the current 7:35/7:45 a.m. start times.

Other school districts that surround Scarborough have adjusted to start times of middle and high school to about 8 a.m. and elementary starting between 8:30 and 9 a.m., depending on each districts unique needs. By implementing a more compromised approach, Scarborough’s school start times would be closer to other school districts in the area, including Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Greely.

These are school districts that Scarborough shares resources with, including vocational schools, as well as participating in extracurricular activities. This would reduce the need for middle and high school students to miss instruction time at the end of the day, due to early dismissal in order to make sporting events and other extracurricular activities. And eliminates the need for vocational students to ride the bus with our youngest students.

While there is no one size fits all plan that will work for everyone, I believe this plan will have a greater positive impact for all age groups, not just one. The compromise plan still allows younger children to be cared for by older children after school and allows current advisory and rise periods to remain at the beginning of the day which will be more beneficial for students.

It will allow older students to complete school work earlier in the day due to extracurricular activities and allow students to continue to have jobs after school.

It will eliminate the need for any age children to be at bus stops earlier in the morning and it will eliminate forcing younger children to lose sleep time due to their extracurricular activities and work schedules of their families.

Research is an effective tool to learn. Research provides recommendations and guidelines based on their findings. However, we have to take the information that we have learned and then figure out a plan based on those findings that will best meet the needs of our town and school district. The compromise start time plan does this.

Thank you to the board of education and Superintendent Kukenberger for your willingness to open up the discussion again. We hope that you will continue to support the compromise start plan.

Brandie Rubin,
Dr. Cliff Rubin

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