EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Thursday night, the East Greenbush School District will hold it’s second public comment session on a proposal to change start times for its schools.
The meeting took place at Columbia High School. The school currently has the earliest start time in the Capital Region of 7:10 a.m. The district is proposing changing that start time to 8:15 a.m. so the high school students can get more sleep, and ultimately, perform better in school.
However, if this were to happen, the elementary schools would move up to a 7:30 a.m. start time and middle school to 8:45 a.m. East Greenbush Central School District Superintendent Jeff Simons tells NEWS10 ABC the district has been studying how this could impact the community for over a year now.
“It’s a complicated puzzle,” he said. “There are many factors that affect our ability to do that. Busing being a huge issue, athletic schedules, extra curricular activities, as well as daycare for elementary schools.”
Laurie Marchiony has three children in the school district. Her sons are in fourth and seventh grade, and her daughter is a freshman at the high school. She’s on the School Start Time Committee and is in favor of the proposed shift because she sees how the current schedules affect each of her children.
“I want to make sure we get it right for everybody,” said Marchiony.
She said she’s especially concerned for the high schoolers balancing sports and a heavy homework load.
“Two weeks into the school year, she got into the car after volleyball practice and was in tears and just said ‘Mom, I am so tired. Can you drive me to school so I can get an extra half hour of sleep?'” said Marchiony.
Another parent in the district, Mike Bobersky, said the proposal would only work if the school planned on shortening the school day for high schoolers, too.
“They’re just pushing their schedules back. If they had homework they were getting done with at 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m., then getting out an hour later they will then be getting done with homework at 10:15 p.m., so I don’t how that helps their cause,” said Bobersky.
Bobersky has two young children in the district and says they need sleep, too.
“We’re going to have to start putting our kids to bed around 6:30 p.m. just to get them the necessary sleep needed,” he said. “It puts a lot of pressure on parents to get them home, get their homework done, baths done, maybe hang out with them if we have time.”
He’s also not happy with the aspect of additional after-school childcare and the costs associated with that.
A quick check of the YMCA after-school program showed $195 per month for YMCA members and $245 for non-members.
“Unfortunately, one of things we have to think about is will I have to move out of the district?” said Bobersky.
A statement from the YMCA Capital District Executive Director, Shannon Romanowski, said:
“We currently provide high quality before and after school care, and that will not change. At present, we serve 54 children in our before care program and 70 children in our after-school care program. If adopted, this new proposal will affect the length of time children are in our care, which will also impact the cost of that care.
Core to our mission is youth development, and as a result we engage high school students in a variety of ways. Including, providing before and after care to our elementary students.”
Not only that, both Greenbush Child Caring, Inc and the YMCA after-school programs rely on high school students for staffing, which would cause a conflict if they were to be dismissed after the elementary kids.
“We had tried putting our oldest into GCC in January and he was put on a waiting list. So if they didn’t have enough staffing last year, how are they going to get enough staffing for this?” said Bobersky.
The Executive Director of Greenbush Child Caring, Inc., Kimberlee Berben, said in a statement:
“I have met with the Superintendent and should the East Greenbush school start times change in the future, Greenbush Child Caring is prepared to work with the district to ensure we keep our services intact and meet the needs of our families and the community.”
Marchiony said she wants to make sure parents in the district know that this is not a done deal.
“It’s an idea and the community feedback is so important to us. We want to make sure the problem doesn’t flip flop and one group doesn’t get left behind because we’re doing what’s best for another group,” said Marchiony.