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Glens Falls school board affirms move to later start in 2012

Glens Falls school board affirms move to later start in 2012

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GLENS FALLS -- After hearing from a committee on the effects of a later start time at other school districts, members of the Glens Falls school board felt they had received enough information to make a decision.

Board member Patty Herrick-Agnew made a motion to change the high school start time beginning in 2012, and board member Shirley Berger made a second motion to bring it to a vote. Following a discussion that included some opposition, the board went on to vote 5-4 to change the start time, as recommended by the start time committee that has spent two years studying the matter.

Last month, the board voted 7-1 that changing the start time had merit. But the board still had to decide on when the new time should take effect.

Since most board members were against making the change this September, a 2012 target was the likely choice. School officials wanted the board to decide by June on when to change the start time.

But Monday's decision came with some debate.

James Clark, who was one of four board members to vote no, said he voted no because the vote was not on the agenda, so residents with an opinion on the matter did not attend the meeting.

He said the start time is a big issue, and the board owed its constituents an opportunity to speak on it before a vote.

The agenda had time allotted for the committee to give its report. It was after the report that the motion was made to change the start time.

Suzanne Spector-Tougas, who also voted no, said she wanted more information on solving traffic issues that will be created by a new start time - and any cost associated with a solution - before voting.

Superintendent Thomas McGowan said there was no way to get an analysis on the cost, and it could take two to three years to get data on traffic issues.

Peter Casertino and Francis "Sonny" McTiernan also voted against moving the start time. At a meeting in April, Casertino said the new start time would create traffic issues at the high school campus. He also said students and teachers have opposed the change.

But, by waiting until 2012, the district has time to solve the issues and provide the public with information related to the new start time, officials said.

The board discussed the start time at meetings in April and March, but board members wanted more information before making a decision, including data on the experience of other schools that have made a similar change.

On Monday, committee members said they had contacted several school districts, and all reported positive results from starting high school later in the morning.

At Glens Falls, the high school start time will change from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. The new time is a few minutes apart from the middle school start time. Since both schools are on one campus, board members worry that traffic congestion near the school - already a problem - will be exacerbated.

Since the school day will end 45 minutes later under the new start time, athletes will need to leave during ninth period for athletic events, which has concerned some board members.

But officials said they can work with the athletic league on changes to game schedules.

"We feel the benefits outweigh the issues," said Elizabeth Collins, the assistant high school principal and a committee member.

Herrick-Agnew said she has two children who play sports, but academics come first.

She believes academic performance will improve under the new start time.

School officials and some board members have favored the new start time because it gives students more time to sleep. It could also cut down on tardiness and improve athletic performance.

Collins said more than 180 students have been late to school at least 15 times this year.


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