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Cumberland Valley School District discusses parents' concerns with staggered start times for school next year
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Cumberland Valley Schools

Cumberland Valley School District discusses parents' concerns with staggered start times for school next year

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Cumberland Valley High School

Pictured is Cumberland Valley High School in Silver Spring Township.

The Cumberland Valley School District responded recently to parents’ concerns about the district’s plan to stagger building start and end times for next year for more efficient student transportation.

Superintendent David Christopher first announced at a school board meeting on April 8 that the district had revised its 2021-22 building start and end times for 2021-22. Christopher further outlined factors and benefits behind the schedule change in a family update video posted last week on the district’s website.

CV’s planned building start and end times as presented for 2021-22 are:

  • Middlesex, Monroe, Green Ridge and Silver Spring elementary schools — start, 9:10 a.m., end 3:30 p.m.; AM Kindergarten — start 9:10 a.m., end 11:45 a.m.; PM Kindergarten — start, 1:15 p.m., end 3:50 p.m.
  • Hampden, Shaull, Sporting Hill and Winding Creek elementary schools — start, 9:30 a.m., end 4:10 p.m.; AM Kindergarten — start 9:30 a.m., end 12:05 p.m.; PM Kindergarten — start 1:35 p.m., end 4:10 p.m.
  • Eagle View Middle School — start, 7:50 a.m., end 2:50 p.m.
  • Cumberland Valley High School — start, 7:55 a.m., end 3 p.m.
  • CV9 — start, 7:35 a.m., end 2:35 p.m.
  • Mountain View Middle School — start 8:25 a.m., end 3:25 p.m.
  • At a Cumberland Valley School Board meeting April 19, Christopher acknowledged that the district has “received several comments and emails from elementary parents who are concerned with the 9:30 a.m. start time next year at four of our elementary schools.”

“Unfortunately, this is a challenge that I think many families face regardless of whether the start time is 9:30 or 8:30,” he said. “I know that many of our families have expressed this concern for years and as a parent of an elementary school aged child in a two-spouse working family, I can certainly understand this concern ... Elementary students are required to have 900 instruction hours per year, which works out to about five hours per day. With the addition of non-instructional times like recess and lunch, most elementary school days end up being around 6 to 6.5 hours per day.

“Unfortunately, this amount of time does not provide adequate coverage for families who have at least 8-hour work schedules and often commute on top of that,” Christopher told the school board on April 19.

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Under new scheduling, Hampden, Shaull, Sporting Hill and Winding Creek Elementary schools would start 35 minutes later next year than in 2020-21. Parents voiced their opposition in more than a dozen written public comments submitted for last Monday’s school board meeting.

Shaull Elementary School parent Robyn Campbell wrote last week, “A school start time of 9:30 a.m. becomes difficult to comprehend for parents. Yes, there are some parents still working from home, but not all parents have this luxury. I, myself, am your Student Services Secretary at Mountain View Middle School. Currently, we rely on my husband to get my son on the bus and for me (non-COVID year) to get him off the bus. By doing this, it saves us over $3,500 annually in before and after-school care expenses.”

Also on Monday, parent Kathleen Clouser wrote, “I am not in favor of changing Sporting Hill (elementary) school time to 9:30 to 4:10. It makes it extremely hard, if not impossible, for working parents to be able to work at reasonable hours without compromising our work situation.”

Christopher said during that meeting that the district currently is working with the YMCA on ways to increase staffing to provide more available slots for their before- and after-school child programs. The YMCA currently provides onsite care for district elementary students from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Under new scheduling, Hampden, Shaull, Sporting Hill and Winding Creek Elementary schools would start 35 minutes later next year than in 2020-21.

A later start time at the high school next year would mean less before-school downtime for “students to get into things,” Christopher added last week. Present bus schedules result in high school students arriving at the building up to 30 minutes before the start of the academic day.

The district worked with a consult to design a new building start and end schedule for next year using elements of the district’s 2021-22 east-west routing plan for busing elementary students during the pandemic. In tandem, the district staggered start and end times for all elementary buildings to accommodate the new system. In last week’s video, Christopher said this year’ new plan has reduced the length of the district’s bus routes, along with the amount of time students spend in daily transit.

Christopher also noted last week that next year’s scheduling changes are a better cost alternative for transporting CV9 students to and from the new 9th-grade academy. “The initial cost for this was estimated $600,000 and required the district to work with bus contractors to hire 18 additional drivers and buy 18 buses. We have a hard enough time with finding bus drivers as it is,” he stated.

Since then, district planners have trimmed next year’s transportation changes, including vehicle mileage, to a present estimated additional cost of $200,000.

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