This is the motto of the Stony Lane Elementary School Whales. Cute, isn't it? What I don't find too cute is the information I was sent in an e-mail yesterday, informing parents that Stony Lane's hours have changed for the 2012-13 school year. The new school hours are 9:25 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. So students will start and end their day ten minutes later than they have in past years. What? Why?
Immediately, feverish texts, e-mails, and phone calls were made. This was news to Stony Lane parents, and many were rip-roaring livid! No one even knew that this was an issue up for discussion by the Superintendent and School Committee! As it turns out, because the North Kingstown Town Council slashed the School Committee's budget, two school buses were taken off the bus fleet to help meet budgetary constraints. As a result, with two fewer buses, school hours for all elementary schools and the high school had to be reconfigured.
The altered start/end times are truly a detriment to the families of all students affected. This town has prided itself on providing an excellent level of education for its children. I, for one, couldn't be happier with the education my two children have received so far! However, in order to keep up at that level of excellence, the school start/end times need to go back to what they were. The new ones are too intrusive on families, and here's why:
1. Many working parents need to leave early in the morning to go to their jobs. Where will their children go to wait for the later buses to come pick them up? Will parents now have to travel further out of their way to drop off children at YMCA programs at far off parts of town? What new expenses will be incurred to cover before school childcare? Will some parents leave young children home alone to independently get themselves on the bus?
2. In order to maximize instructional learning time, parents schedule orthodontist, pediatrician, dentist, tutoring appointments after school. With children getting off buses later, there just won't be as much time to get these things done.
Will more parents be forced to pull more students out of school early, with greater frequency, in order to meet the needs of scheduled well-care, and preventative appointments? Will parents skip scheduled appointments altogether because children get out of school just too late, and the offices they need to go to close at 5 p.m.?
3. Certainly, the above stated point will prove to be an even greater distraction to the educational environment than it already is. So instead of one student being pulled to leave early every so often, now you will have multiple students called to the office to leave with much greater frequency. Aren't those last precious minutes at the end of the school day times where homework is passed out, explained, and important information is provided by teachers about events upcoming?
4. Children will be getting home later, and will be unable to participate in soccer, baseball, dance, flag football, karate lessons due to conflicting time schedules.
Will students participating in outdoor sports be forced to give them up because their bus gets home too late, and sporting associations cannot accomodate because it gets dark earlier in the Fall? With budgetary cuts in school programs such as music and sports, where will our talented youth go to strengthen their skills? Couldn't this be a potential financial detriment to area businesses providing such services?
My reason for posting this blog is to bring attention to an issue that has many Stony Lane parents spouting with anger. I just felt like I had to DO something, instead of sitting around stewing about it. Please tell me how YOU feel about the new start/end time changes to all of the North Kingstown elementary schools and the high school. Yes, budget cuts are a fact of life, I get it loud and clear. But couldn't something else be cut that's not so detrimental to so many North Kingstown families? Eager to hear your thoughts!