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Fri09192014

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BAIT AND SWITCH? Parents angry over "never disclosed" high school start time

Another CPS "we promised you air conditioning"-style blunder?
 
COLUMBIA, 1/12/13 (Beat Byte) -- A proposed 7:20 a.m. start time for Columbia-area high school students has parents crying foul.  The ultra-early start time could impact teen learning; and Columbia Public Schools (CPS) may have pulled a "bait and switch" reminiscent of the air conditioning promise that almost wasn't.
 
The 7:20 am start time appeared out of nowhere, parents say. It was not in earlier news stories about the start time change. It was not a choice in a survey provided to district patrons. So why is the School Board considering a time that would have students with extra-curricular activities up at 5 am to make practices normally scheduled before school begins?
 
"I filled out the survey, and did not see 7:20 as an option given," said Karen P., in a lengthy email discussion about the change Friday.
 
"I’m not happy about it either – and neither is my son," said parent Chris O.
 
"I’m very disappointed in CPS attempting to move the start time for H.S. students/faculty/staff to 7:20 a.m.," said this writer's wife. "In fact, I dutifully filled out the on-line survey and did not see this as an option, so I’m not certain how it came to be the proposed start time."

Bait and Switch?


District officials have been telling news media they relied on the patron survey. But that cannot be true, say parents who took it.
 
"I am incensed," wrote Mike Sykuta on the KOMU news website. "What the committee proposed is totally outside the public input they solicited," explained Sykuta, an associate professor of applied social sciences and director of the Contracting and Organizations Research Institute at the University of Missouri. "CPS administration wonders why it lacks credibility."
 
The patron survey was supposed to include high school students in a later-start group, a December Trib article reported. "The transportation committee recommended two scenarios be included on a survey...In both scenarios, high school students are in the second group, starting at 8:15 a.m. and dismissing at 3:30 p.m. The last group will start at 8:45 a.m. and release at 4:10 p.m."
 
The same report emphasized later start times for high school students with comments from a parent. "I think none of the kids should be starting their days sooner. Starting later results in better academic outcomes," Debbie Rodman told the board at its regular meeting.

Students, too, are upset about the bait and switch. "This contradicts everything the students were told. In fact, it's the complete opposite," wrote Hickman High student Collin Hollrah.
 
Tears for tiers
 
Columbia Daily Tribune articles have followed the issue for months, and of many start time options, 7:20 a.m. never appears. High school students also had the latest start times in both options reported Nov. 28.
 
"The school board is considering two options for altering bus schedules and school start times," the Tribune story explained. "Option 1 would put most elementary schools on the first tier, high schools on the second tier and middle schools on the third tier. Option 2 would put middle schools on the first tier and elementary schools on the third, leaving high school second."
 
The second tier has the latest start time:

First tier: 7:30 a.m. drop-off, 7:45 a.m. start, 2:45 p.m. dismissal
Second tier: 8:15 a.m. drop-off, 8:30 a.m. start, 3:30 p.m. dismissal
Third tier: 8:45 a.m. drop-off, 9 a.m. start, 4:10 p.m. dismissal

Studying and sleep studies
 
Later high school start times are the routine School Board members favored, too.

Jonathan "Sessions pointed to research that indicates starting high school at a later time results in better test scores," a September Trib article reported. "Placing high school kids in the later start group is consistent with studies that indicate adolescents need more sleep than younger students."
 
Board member James Whitt mirrored the same opinion.

"What happened to the research supporting later start times for adolescents?" Hickman High's Collin Hollrah asks. "Hmmm."

The CPS Board of Education will consider the start time change at its Monday, Jan. 14 meeting. The public is invited to attend.

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