Adjusting to a Later School Day
Families learn to shift their schedules with the new school times.
Last spring, the Bierbaum Elementary School community was buzzing with the news of a time change in the school day passed by the school board. Our house was buzzing, too. Bierbaum was one of the schools affected by the change to a four-tier transportation system, moving the start and end times back by half an hour.
Somehow, 4:00 seemed much later in the day than 3:30. After all, my husband and I kept saying, for the next four years, the kids would be arriving home at dusk for a good part of the school year. We thought, too, that starting homework so late in the day would be a challenge if we expected them to have time to play.
I kept reminding myself, however, that the school board’s motivation was to keep cuts away from the classroom. The expected savings of the new transportation system was $524,000 in combined personnel and vehicle costs. The new plan would allow the district to use 12 fewer buses and 12 fewer drivers.
The new school year rolled around, and I was in for a pleasant reality. The late release time isn’t great, but the late start time is fantastic for my family. My son is happy to sleep until 8:00 every morning, and he’s usually ready to go with time to play before school starts. The receptionist and I aren’t bonding on quite as regular a basis as we were last year, where we spent half of kindergarten trying to get our morning routine down.
I chatted with a couple of other Bierbaum moms to find out whether the time change ended up being a big deal for their families. Tina Kult told me that her family does not tend to be early birds either, so the only noticeable impact on their household is that one of their after-school activities became a before-school activity instead.
Lisa Maxey said the extra half-hour in the morning was welcome at her house, too. The afternoons were more of a trick. A couple of days a week, the rush to get to after-school activities means that she’s picking up her daughter in the line at school instead of waiting at the bus stop.
Lisa also mentioned that though the bus driver on her family’s route has been great; there are times when the earlier tiers get behind and affect what time her daughter gets home from school. And the coming earlier sunset will mean that sometimes her daughter will get off the bus in the dark. Lisa is always there to meet her daughter at the bus stop, but wonders how it might affect other families.
Despite the initial buzz when it seemed like a lot of moms I talked to last spring were complaining about the late release time, the reality isn’t so tough. And with the district saving enough money to protect funds for more important needs in the classroom, it’s a change I can definitely get behind.