Later Start Time for Schools
From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 7
By Jeremy Matusow
A new plan was established March 26 concerning new, homogeneous start times for all Long Beach middle schools. Termed Plan B, all middle schools in the city will begin class at 9 a.m. and conclude at 3:40 p.m. starting in 2013-2014.
The new start time will impact six of the district’s 15 middle schools. The other nine schools previously began at 9 a.m.
This particular plan will save the Long Beach school district more than $1 million in transportation costs. According to the city of Long Beach, district officials stated that the proposed plan would save $1,059,484 in transportation costs through bus schedule adjustments. About $953,000 will be preserved from modifying bus schedules for the district’s 3,000 special education students.
Parents who attended the board meeting regarding Plan B appeared to be pleased. Tymeshia Beeks, a 37-year-old mother, whose 9-year-old son attends Lowell Elementary, gives her take on the newly implemented plan.
“This district is constantly cutting to balance its budget,” said Beeks. “My thought is, whatever it takes to save people’s jobs and stop closing schools. We all need to make sacrifices.”
According to city district officials, more than 80 schools nationwide have approved late start times with such results as improved attendance, less tardiness, improved behavior and fewer students seeking help for stress.
Joe Boyd, executive director of the Teacher’s Association of Long Beach, advised the district to delay altering changes for the 2013-2014 school year. He believes that collecting more information regarding time change and how it may affect certain schools would be in people’s best interest.
“Is this a good idea? We don’t know because the district at this time is unable to provide clear information on how this will impact each school,” Boyd said.
Virginia Torres, president of the Teachers Association of Long Beach, stated that Plan B presented at the school board meeting was not the same plan the district had presented at a union meeting earlier in March.
“They’re trying to end run around negotiations. They have to go through collective bargaining,” said Torres.
According to school district officials, Plan A would have implemented all high schools start class at 8:50 a.m. instead of 7:50 a.m. Middle schools would have began at 7:50 a.m. and conclude at 2:30 p.m. Elementary schools would have either started at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m.
Several administrators and teachers believed that this particular change in time may have put the safety of students at risk. They stated that countless students may have been dropped off early by their working parents and would have had to linger around at school unsupervised. Additional students would perhaps have to have walked home in the dark as a result of being let out at a later time.
According to the district, a 40-60 member ad hoc committee will research the pros and cons of a late start time for high school students, which was originally established for Plan A. The committee will include parents, teachers, support staff and administrators that will be chosen sometime in the fall.
Chris Steinhauser, district superintendent, sided with Torres stating that the plan presented at the school board meeting was unlike the previous one. However, he confirmed who would consist of the committee.
“Some committee members would be volunteers, and the district will publicize the opportunity for potential volunteers,” said Steinhauser. “The committee would report its findings to the school board no later than Sept. 2014.”