The School Board for , and many parents were concerned that the decision is based on the staff and athletics rather than on academics.
The board is proposing a 7:14 a.m. start time rather than 8 a.m. in an effort to reduce hours missed by students involved in extracurricular activities.
“For sports you are going to risk that (the start time) changing,” a concerned parent said. “I can’t believe people are talking about sports, rather than academics.”
The board said even though sports and extracurriculars are a dominate motivator for the plan, they said other reasons also affect the proposal.
“I can speak for this whole board that it doesn’t put sports over academics,” said School Board President Kathy Shurilla.
One attendee in support of the proposal emphasized the decision should be about “student athletes”.
“It’s not about athletes and putting them above students,” School Board member Lori Blodorn said. “It’s a fact that it’s a part of their lives and affecting their presence in class.”
More teacher planning time and bus schedules were also reasons why the School Board is proposing the start time change.
Having an earlier bus schedule for the high school would allow the district to have a three-tiered bus schedule, one bus schedule per school, which would dramatically decrease the amount of money spent on student transportation.
Here are the numbers according to the board:
- First tier costs the district $120 per day.
- Second tier costs the district $80 per day.
- Third tier costs the district $40 per day.
If all three schools started at the same time, it would cost the district $1,800 per week. With all three schools starting at different times, it would lower the cost to $1,200 per week.
Parents understood the benefits of the change in the bus schedule, but still felt the board needed to think more about the students.
Shurilla said the parents are not the only ones unhappy about the proposal, and some staff members aren't keen on the new hours either.
“I think you are going to find a difference between teachers as well,” Shurilla said.
In a report the board handed out at the meeting, MFHS would have the earliest start time compared to other high schools in the area if the proposal is approved. Surrounding schools such as Brookfield Central and East start at 7:55 a.m. and Wauwatosa East and West start at 8:00 a.m.
A 22-year Menomonee Falls resident, who did not want to be named, felt no matter what, students would perform better if the start time stayed the same.
“This is not a healthy way,” the 22-year resident said. “You (the board) are pushing students to function in an unhealthy way.”
That resident believed the earlier start time would make students turn to unhealthy substances to stay awake and alert like caffeine and energy drinks.
“Bottom line - we are thinking about what changes are going to give them a better education,” said School Board Treasurer Ron Bertieri, and ended the discussion with those words.
The School Board will make a final vote on the revised schedule at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at .
Employee Handbook Creation
With teacher contracts ending next year, and collective bargaining gone, the School Board is currently assembling an employee handbook that would act as a contract between the district and teachers.
Shurilla said the board is currently trying to write the rules that apply districtwide. That foundation will lead to forming guidelines for sub work groups in the district.
Many attendees expressed their concerns with keeping the handbook public, not in secret.
The board ensured once the handbook is complete, which is well down the road, the handbook will be posted and obtainable to the public for review.
“All handbook work and thoughts will go through committees and boards,” Blodorn said. “A lot of work does happen at the committee level, but we urge people to come and put in their input.”
The next Board of Education Roundtable discussion is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30. A location has not been decided.