New plans are on the table for the Columbia School Board as they continue to look at ways to alter school start times.For months a committee has been looking to adjust start times as the district adds another high school and reconfigures the middle schools for the 2013 academic year. This morning the board discussed shortening school days as just one way to help make those adjustments, but that’s just an example of the many of hypotheticals members are looking at.Today members added the possibility of having high schools start last. That idea was previously ruled out because of the extra-curricular activities that go late. As discussions have continued, having high schools start last is looking to be a better option for the district. Administrators say they’re tasked with weighing options and consequences throughout the process.”What would be some side effects of shifting one way or another,” District Spokesman Michelle Baumstark said. “So they looked at some options with having elementary first, with having middle school first.”The idea of high school starting was first was not a hit. Now school officials are looking at having the oldest students start the latest, saying a combination of factors led to this point.”There’s been parent concerns about having middle schoolers and high schoolers riding on the same buses,” Baumstark said.Parents and students also expressed concerns about the students’ success, and how well teens would do starting earlier in the morning. Baumstark says officials have been looking into the matter.”We’ve been looking at research with regard to sleep studies and those overwhelmingly say high schoolers do better then they start later in the day.”Officials also say it could be the most effective, at least in terms of buses and transportation as high school bus routes are the longest. Right now Baumstark says parents are favoring elementary starting the earliest, followed by middle school, and then high school. That would push dismissal times back. They are now slated between 3:35-3:50, compared to the previously proposed 4:10.Dan Wilfong, a district parent, agrees with what Baumstark says most parents seem to be favoring.”The younger, the earlier, and go in that direction,” Wilfong said. “It’s nothing for a grade school kid and the parent to get them up and have them out the door by 7 or 7:30.”But Zaim Celebic says he doesn’t want his elementary schooler going any earlier.”That’s just not good for me and my wife, it’s not good for our schedule and it’s not good for kids.”Celebic says he worries about the bus schedule for elementary, and the early times for middle school.He said, “That’s the second problem, middle school is going too early, that’s just not good.””If we can find a solution that helps alleviate those concerns, that would be an ideal thing to have happen,” Baumstark told ABC 17 News.Board members are continuing to draw up ideas to discuss as the time to make a decision looms. “And now it’s just down to the nitty gritty of trying to move things around and seeing if we can make the times and the bus numbers and the cost work.”Baumstark says it could be March before members make a final decision.
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