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QCSB to Change School Start Times
Written by Jennifer Frieze, Correspondent
2022-08-17

            At the Quakertown Community School Board meeting, last Thursday, the board voted to modify the start times at the district schools.

            The middle school will begin at 7:30, the high school will start at 8:15, elementary schools at 9:20.

            According to district officials, the change will positively impact busing and driver shortages, adolescent sleep patterns, athletics programs start times and travel, and students at the Upper Bucks Technical School. 

            The estimated saving through reduced buses is $150,000 to $300,000. The need for fewer buses would help eliminate the bus driver shortages that triggered cancellations and service interruptions last school year.

            A parent committee, in 2019, examined studies that showed high school-age students need more sleep to perform better in academics. An extra 30 minutes in the morning could positively impact their performance in school and extracurricular activities.

            The students at the tech school could also benefit. This change in start time should allow for their classes to flow more easily and administration and teachers would have adequate time to perform all expected duties.

            The vote followed lengthy discussions during the final budget process. The administration was asked to find ways to save on budget expenditures and close a financial gap. One suggestion was changing the two-tier busing to a three-tier busing system, giving each level its own start time.

            This change was not welcomed by all board members or parents.,

            Board member Glenn Iosue critiqued the administration for addressing the start time issues so close to the start of the new school year. "I value what you guys [administration] has done. But you put it on the agenda so late that it couldn't be on the paper agenda. We didn't have time to discuss it or receive feedback.

            "It strikes me as irresponsible. I don't think we did the right thing here. All the defense is to cover our asses because we've gotten six dozen emails about it," said Iosue.  Cris Spear also expressed his concern.

            Their comments were not well received. There was subtle discord between the board members as they discussed the topic. However, during final resolution, the motion was passed 7-2 to change from a two-tier to a three-tier system.

            Residents expressed their concern during public comment. LeeAnn Haberle, of Richland Township, expressed concern over start times. She sat on the start time committee. She is concerned about students going home to empty homes, athletic schedules, and missed learning time.

            David O'Donnell, of Richland Township, thanked the board and administration. He encouraged the board to do better.  "The public needs to show up more, and make our voices heard. Many want to complain on Facebook, but don't show up to the meetings. The board should hold the administration accountable. The sudden shifts in start times have an impact on our community," he said.

            Other residents stated that they were upset that the parents didn't have time to respond or provide feedback to the school start time change.

            Anna Haberle, a high school student, expressed her concern that she would lose school time as an athlete.


 

 

 

 

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