Trustees address start time change proposal
A proposal to shift daily hours at 10 Carson Valley schools may require some time to study, Douglas County School District trustees were advised Tuesday during their regularly scheduled meeting.
After reviewing data from a community-wide survey, Superintendent Lisa Noonan informed the school board in the Douglas High School media center that her recommendation would be to delay implementing any changes to allow time to study the information. Trustees took no action on the agenda item.
She noted that 2,535 online responses were received. That total included 1,160 parents, 933 students, 308 school district employees and 134 community members.
“We have this incredible body of information that people have taken the time to provide us and I feel it needs to be very carefully looked at,” Noonan said.
Thomas Moore, board president, supported a recommendation by Noonan to organize a group to examine the proposal.
“I think the best thing we can do is regroup on this,” he said. “The idea of putting a group together to work through all of the issues is a sound process.”
Efficient costs of transportation, accommodating new schedules due to start at Carson Valley’s secondary schools next year and better alignment on the sleep needs of teenagers are listed as reasons for the proposed changes, which tentatively include:
■ ASPIRE Academy High School, 7:15 a.m.-1:45 p.m.
■ Jacks Valley and Piñon Hills elementary schools, 7:45 a.m.-2 p.m.
■ Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, Scarselli and CC Meneley elementary schools, 8 a.m.-2:25 p.m.
■ Douglas High School, 8:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
■ Carson Valley Middle School, 8:55 a.m.-3:20 p.m.
■ Minden and Gardnerville elementary schools, 9 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
“I think in that survey, there is a lot of information that is unknown, or misinformation,” Trustee Sharla Hales said. “If we have an opportunity for dialogue over a period of months, a lot of that will clear up.”
Hales noted that ASPIRE has limited options due to its working agreement to share classroom facilities with Western Nevada College.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t want to move toward a better start time for them as well when circumstances allow us to do that,” she added.
Trustee Ross Chichester expressed concern about the early start times proposed for Jacks Valley and Piñon Hills. Five members of the audience later explained their concerns about the proposal, including two mothers of Piñon Hills students.
“I have two children at Piñon Hills, who are impacted greatly,” Christy Degenhart said. “My children will be starting at 7:45 in the morning. Right now, their starting time is 9:05. They will be waiting in the dark and in the cold to catch the bus in the morning.”
Teresa Chamness echoed those sentiments.
“I think our kids are the future, and making sure that they have adequate time to attend schools, get their homework done and to participate in sports or any extracurricular activities needs to be at the forefront,” said Chamness, herself a product of Douglas County schools. “I think it’s not about dollars and cents, it’s about our kids.”
Trustee Cynthia Trigg expressed her belief that the board’s responsibility is to make an effort to ensure students are put in a position to perform to the best of their ability.
“I don’t know if this is something that will eventually move forward, but it’s definitely something we have to look at,” she said.
Eric Jacobs offered the perspective of a DHS junior who participates in swimming and debate programs, in addition to his work as an Advance Placement honors student.
For example, he explained that students who are involved in extracurricular activities could face the loss of nearly two full class periods on the days they are competing at events.
“I understand the school district’s interests in accommodating the financial constraints of transportation and accommodating the changes in secondary schools,” he said. “But I’d like to remind the school district that their ultimate responsibility is the welfare and morale of the attending students and their parents.”
If the time changes are not implemented, Hales noted that students at the high school could face a 7:20 start time when they return to school in August 2015.
“It seems to me a very incremental change to mitigate that earlier hour might be in order as an interim step,” she said.
Ernie Monfiletto, a history teacher and varsity football coach at Douglas High School, supported the idea of a compromise .
“I would hope that we as a community can get together and find a comprise that best fits the needs of all students,” he said. “I think that the opportunity to let this rest a little bit and have the discussions to consider all perspectives.
“I think there are a lot of legitimate arguments on both sides of the table. It’s just now a matter of sorting it out and doing what’s best for the kids … and I know that we will have a good conclusion.”