Board of Education debates start times, but not for Staples

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Board of Education debates start times, but not for Staples

The Board discussed different start times and bussing options for elementary schools at its meeting last Monday.

The Board discussed different start times and bussing options for elementary schools at its meeting last Monday.

Will McDonald

The Board discussed different start times and bussing options for elementary schools at its meeting last Monday.

Will McDonald

Will McDonald

The Board discussed different start times and bussing options for elementary schools at its meeting last Monday.

Will McDonald, Managing Editor

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With a leaner docket than normal meetings, turnout for Monday’s Board of Education meeting was rather low.

The main issue on the agenda was school start times and how bussing can be rearranged to even out the start time disparity that currently exists between most middle and elementary schools.

Currently, Westport Public Schools operates on a two-tiered bus system, with the buses servicing Staples High school going on to service Bedford Middle School, Kings Highway Elementary School, and Long Lots Elementary. The buses that service Coleytown Middle School go on to service Saugatuck Elementary, Coleytown Elementary, and Greens Farms Elementary.

Sandra Evangelista, the Transportation Coordinator for the district, presented five plans that would lessen the start time difference that exists between some of the schools – for example, Coleytown Elementary starts the day at 8:45, an hour later than Coley Middle.

“Option one reverts back to our 2008-2009 schedule,” said Evangelista, referring to the way things were done before budget cuts forced the elimination of four buses.

According to Evangelista, Coleytown, Bedford Middle, and Saugatuck would all begin at 8 a.m., with the remaining schools starting at 8:30. Unfortunately for sleepy Staples students looking for more sleep in the future, none of the plans altered the school from its current 7:30 opening.

While the four other plans presented also shuffled start times around, it was clear that option one was the most economical not only in a financial sense as it added only three buses, but also from a traffic maintenance standpoint. While the fifth option seemed to solve the disparity the best by putting both middle schools and all elementary schools on the same timetable, Superintendent Elliott Landon stressed that the eleven additional buses the option calls for may be a bridge too far.

“I really believe that we are going to be under incredible budgetary pressure this year,” said Superintendent Elliott Landon.” There are a lot of things (such as this plan) we’d like to have, but I know there are a lot of things we aren’t going to be able to get.“

Many of the parents who spoke to the Board during the allotted time emphasized the need for a more common end time between different schools in order to ease the disparity.

“With all of these after school activities, there’s not a chance that I can get my daughter there on time. Not a chance,” said Christine Chapman, a parent of a student at Coleytown Elementary, which has the latest dismissal time currently.

For Landon, the main issue that has to be considered when the Board eventually decides on an option is December is money.

“If we were in Scarsdale I’d say let’s do the $750,000 one,“ said Landon, relating an anecdote about a time teachers there asked the Board of Education for $50,000 only to receive $100,000. “But we live in a different world than them.”

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