Tonight, the West Hartford Board of Education will review the final presentation explaining the benefits, costs, and effects of delaying school start times across the district. The presentation will focus on how the potential delays would adjust the district’s transportation system.
West Hartford parents are posed with a critical question: Would you rather have your kids get some extra sleep – knowing it’ll cost more tax dollars and change the family schedule – or keep the school schedules the way they are?
Should schools be delayed, after-school programs like daycare and school sports will have to adjust.
Jamie Trajcevsky, who has a daughter at Braeburn Elementary, said the change could be worth it for the teens.
“I don’t like to see the teenagers waiting in the dark, in the freezing cold, half asleep,” Trajcevsky said.
The district currently pays more than $56,000 every year for school transportation. According to tonight’s presentation, if the start times are delayed at the public schools, yet stay the same at the private schools, that price tag skyrockets to $510,000.
Kimberly Bouthiette said it could benefit teens, but not her 5-year-old son Nate.
“I think the answer is no. My kids get up at 6:00 in the morning. They’re ready to go, and by the end of the day they’ve had it,” she said.
Buses currently pick up students in three runs: high school, middle school, and elementary school and there’s a proposal to consolidate those pickups into two runs. The presentation indicates that means 46 additional buses would have to be put on the roads and it could cost the district more than $2.5 million.
The district is drawing upon research that shows how later start times increase a student’s engagement in class and lowers student-reported depression. Though Jaime’s daughter is only in elementary school, she says, “I do see the older she gets, I think it’ll benefit them for sleeping in a little bit.”
Tonight’s Board of Education meeting begins at 7 p.m. The board will also consider how changing the transportation schedule will affect after-school programs and daycare centers. An informational meeting for parents is scheduled for Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.