Letter to SPS from the BF Day PTSA president regarding bell time changes

Hello, my name is Steve Albertson, and I’m the president of the B.F. Day Elementary School PTSA.
Thank you for accepting and considering the input from the families at B.F. Day Elementary School. In order to easily and quickly engage our school community, we chose to send out a brief survey and have summarized the results here.
The questions and the results are listed below.  We received 71 responses from appx. 286 families in a 36-hour period, for a response rate of 25%.
Summary: very simply, 77% of responding families said that a 9:40am start time and the 3:50pm end time would be WORSE for their family. 55 people provided personal and detailed comments that deserve consideration. They are all listed below.
Given these strong results, we feel confident in saying that the B.F. Day community of families ARE OPPOSED to the proposed 9:40am start time for our school.
Some general themes for reasons why families feel that the later start is a worse time include:
  1. It presents childcare challenges, with the most mentioned concern being the additional cost. It will also add complexity to work/family schedules.  Many families indicated that they would have to find childcare before and after school.
  2. The late start and therefore late end, would make it difficult for children to have enough time to do homework, participate in after school activities and engage as a family on weeknights.
  3. The late start and late end are not conducive for learning for children ages 5-11. Many children will be up early anyway (either because they naturally wake early or because they will have to leave early with their parents to childcare). Being in class until 4pm will be exhausting for young children.
  4. The data is lacking to support this option. Younger children wake earlier, should start school earlier. Older kids naturally sleep later and should start school later. Plus, older kids can be home by themselves in the morning and get themselves to school. Younger children cannot.
  5. The late start presents additional challenges for special needs children, which comprises more than 6% of our student population. The exact comment made was “Our son has significant special needs and is in the SM3 classroom. If the start/end time changed, we would need both before and after school care for our son, which would present a significant hardship. It is not easy for a special needs child to cope with the multiple transitions imposed by before and after school care.”
In addition, we are confused and frustrated that the exact bell times were not made more readily available to each school to comment on. The exact times were difficult to track down online and not directly linked to any of the materials about the open houses. When you modify an option (in this case when the option changes from no elementary schools starting at 9:40am to quite a few starting at 9:40am), you should make that very clear so people have the opportunity to provide feedback. Our survey shows that most of our families (69%) were not even aware of the proposed time change.
Sincerely, and on behalf of our families,
Steve Albertson, President
*the actual survey comments are not available for public viewing.

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