Causes and concerns for state bill proposing later school day

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A state Senator is proposing a bill that would prohibit public schools from starting class any earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) said safety is her primary concern for introducing Senate Bill 218 because she’s concerned with kids going to school in the dark.

Dr. Elizabeth Lolli, Dayton Public Schools’ Superintendent, said she understands the safety aspect of a later school day as some students who start school around 7 a.m. can get picked up 45 minutes earlier.

“Because of daylight savings time, because of Winter months, we go to school in the dark,” said Lolli. “Those early morning hours, when no one is really around, students are sometimes out at a bus stop by themselves.”

But starting school at 8:30 a.m. is a major concern for many working parents.

“I don’t really know how I’m going to get the kids to school at the time they need to be,” said Dayton resident, James Couch. “If I need to be at work at 7 in the morning, then we’re going to have to get us a babysitter or something.”

Currently, Lolli said DPS parents can opt for their kids to go to a different school that works better for their work schedule, but added that would no longer work if no school started before 8:30 a.m.

“Some parents would have to find a daycare that they dropped their students off to, and their daycare would either be on our routes where we automatically go by them and pick up those students, or the daycare would have to route to the schools,” said Lolli.

Lolli also said along with a later start time, students would get out later so if this were to pass, it would be likely that some students wouldn’t be done until 5 p.m.

Eight Dayton Public Schools already start their day at 9 a.m., but Lolli said that’s because their four-tier busing system is the only way to get kids to one of the 38 different destinations.

“We only have 115 buses and we have a limited number of drivers to do those routes,” said Lolli.

On Friday, Lolli told 2 NEWS she agrees middle and high schoolers should start a little later, but not with the proposed strict 8:30 a.m. start time.

“If we started at 8:30, students would be picked up probably about 7:45 in the morning, and then 45 minutes later, the next tier would start,” said Lolli. “We would be delivering students to school, probably around 10 in the morning.”

Since the required instruction time is about 6.5 hours, this would make their final bell about 5 or 5:15 p.m., thus changing the way they would do sports and games during weekdays.

“Unless we push back our athletics start times to say 6 p.m., it would be very difficult for teens that go until 4 or 4:30 to be able to get ready to go to their games,” said Lolli.

She said it’s not sensible to think all Ohio schools can start at 8:30 a.m. without there being ramifications for parents, or cost to the district.

“If they’re going to provide additional bus drivers which all of us are in need of, if they’re going to provide additional buses, if they’re going to provide latchkey support for students, I think then let’s move forward with that, but I think again, they’re imposing something that isn’t really realistic,” said Lolli.

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