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CASD board sleeping on school schedule shift

October 24, 2007|By DON AINES

Elementary school students in the Chambersburg Area School District could end up going to school much earlier in the future and high school students could get some extra shut-eye, but they will all get to sleep on it for at least another year.

The Chambersburg School Board on Wednesday discussed flipping the schedules of elementary and secondary students, but decided there was too much groundwork to be done with parents to try to make the change in the 2008-09 school year.

The district is exploring ways to add more instructional time to the elementary school year, currently at the minimum of 900 hours, Superintendent Joseph Padasak said. The change also could cut down on the time students spend on buses and result in more alert high school students.

Currently, elementary schools start the day at about 8:30 a.m., a time that varies slightly from one school to another, and end at about 2:30 p.m. The proposal outlined by Patty Jacobs, an assistant principal at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, would have those students start at 7:50 a.m., while still ending at about 2:35 p.m.

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High school students start at 8:07 a.m. and leave school shortly after 3 p.m. The proposal would change the start time to 8:50 a.m., with the last class ending at 3:35 p.m.

"We sequence our school day like a sandwich, not a layer," Business Manager Rick Vensel said. The elementary school day "is structured inside the secondary day."

"No one was able to give me an answer" on why the district schedules school that way, Vensel said.

As far as transportation, Vensel said the existing schedule means secondary students get on their buses first, followed by elementary students. Elementary school students get picked up first at the end of the day.

The system results in some students having to transfer buses on the way to and from school, and makes for some lengthy bus rides, Vensel said. Changing the schedule will allow the elementary school day to be expanded for additional programs and instruction, he said.

As for secondary students, Jacobs said teenagers require 9.25 hours of sleep, but probably only get six or seven. The extra sack time could result in more alert and better-performing high school students with fewer disciplinary problems, she said.

At this time of year, however, a change in schedule would mean elementary students getting on buses before dawn. Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Services Catherine Dusman said she was concerned about children going to school in the dark.

Board member Joel Happel said the district needs time to get the message out to parents. While few people attend meetings when the board is passing a $100 million budget, plenty of parents will be concerned about their schedules being changed, he said.

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