A parent group concerned about new bell times for the 2019-20 school year is planning to speak in front of the Superior School Board during its Monday, June 10, meeting.
“We’re just hoping to have people show up and comment,” said Katie Browen, a member of the group.
The bell times were approved by a split School Board vote May 13 after seven people spoke in opposition to the proposed change, according to draft minutes of the meeting. The vote was 3-2. One member abstained; another was excused.
Most affected were Four Corners and Lake Superior elementary schools, which will begin the day at 9:10 a.m. and end at 3:42 p.m., according to information provided by the district. The other elementary schools, Bryant, Cooper, Great Lakes and Northern Lights, will begin at 8:55 a.m. and end at 3:27 p.m. Superior Middle and High schools will begin at 7:55 a.m. and end at 3:03 p.m.
Since the vote, two petitions have been circulated by the parent group. The first asked the board to hold a special meeting about the bell times and garnered 121 signatures. It was declined. The second, with 222 votes, asked the board to rescind the bell times. Browen said she intended to turn it in at the district office June 6.
Because Superior is a unified district, District Administrator Amy Starzecki said, the Board is not required to act on a petition.
“My understanding is we’re moving forward with the change,” she said.
Browen said the district’s decision runs contrary to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that older students should start school at 8:30 a.m. or later. Browen said parents are also concerned that, with the later bell times, their students would be unable to attend after-school practices and events.
Starzecki said the responsibility for setting start times rests with the administrator and transportation director.
“It could have been put on the board as an informational item, but we chose to have it as an action item for more transparency and making sure the board was supportive of the changes,” she said.
The change was made to increase the efficiency of the transportation system, Starzecki said. Although not every student will see shorter route times, she said students will no longer have routes that are two hours long.
“The whole point is that we’re more efficient so that kids will be home at about the same time or they’ll be home sooner and their drive times are less,” Starzecki said.
The district plans to review the new bell times next year to see if it is more efficient and better for kids.