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Views on start times come out at public meetings

Residents and teachers shared their thoughts and worries on new school start time plans at public meetings held last Monday and Tuesday.

Resident Joanne Micu's concern about elementary schools starting at 7:45 a.m., as set forth in one plan, was shared by others who said it's not safe for kids to be walking to school or standing at bus stops in the dark.

Molly Babbitt, Newport Elementary School teacher, and several other Newport teachers, object to their start time moving from 8:05 a.m. to 9:20 a.m., she said.

Babbitt said she wonders if it's worth disrupting families across the district to accommodate a change at high schools.

Kathy Connell said she prefers high schools begin at 8:15 a.m., if a change is made, instead of 8:35 a.m. as is offered in two plans. Her daughter needs to leave school early to play sports and already misses class time, she said.

Students at St. Ambrose Catholic School, which is bused along with all district non-public schools, have a 40-minute bus ride, according to Katie Bratland. Plan Three, calling for an 8:35 a.m. start, works best for her family, she said.

Denise Drost, Middleton Elementary School parent, said nearly half the school's population will change next year due to new attendance boundaries. With all the changes at a new school, she questions moving the start time from 9:10 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. in one plan.

Some elementary school children would get home before high school students in some plans, said Dianne Hatfull who is concerned about babysitting arrangements.

The task force has tentatively dropped plans 15 and 17.

The District 833 School Board will vote on the start-time plans on Tuesday, after the start-time task force makes a recommendation to the board on which plan it should choose.

If start time changes are recommended, there can be no additional cost to the district, the school board said.

About 35 people each attended a public meetings at Park High School and Woodbury High school on the new start times.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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