September 30, 2014

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No more naps in study hall …

Oberlin seeks to push back the start of the school day

OBERLIN — When school starts Aug. 28, just about every student in the Oberlin Schools will be able to get an extra hour of sleep.
That’s because the Oberlin school board is expected to approve at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday new school schedules that call for an hour of professional development for teachers before each school day.
School board President Marci Alegant said the board is committed to the new start times, which are part of the contract approved by the Oberlin Education Association.
But that doesn’t mean the board is blind to possible problems, especially those involving parents of elementary school students who have to get to work by a certain time, she said.
“Families will have to find a way to deal with different starting times,” Alegant said.
Some community activists said the later start times will be difficult for those in jobs without flexibility. Shirley R. Johnson, who regularly attends board meetings, said she worries that parents haven’t been given enough warning and there won’t be anyone to look after younger children waiting to catch the school bus when their parents have to be at work by 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m., she said.
Still, there seems to be community support for the new times.
The extra hour of sleep will be a blessing for high school students like Cody Jones, who used to get up at 5:30 a.m. to shower, his mom said.
Teenagers desperately need sleep, and the new start time will allow that, according to his mother, Paula Jones, who has five kids in Oberlin Schools.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “There’s research that shows a later start time is healthier for kids.
“I know there are some families who will be in a quandary,” Jones said. “It might be a good opportunity for neighbors to pull together — maybe parents will have to call on neighbors to watch their kids and put them on the bus.”
Another resident in the Oberlin district, Mary Francis, said her granddaughters, ages 6 and 10, will enjoy the extra sleep.
Other parents contacted randomly in the community expressed support for the plan, including Robert Geitz, who said, “All in all, it’s a good change.”
The 92-member teacher’s union approved the plan to provide an hour every day before school for teacher development called “Prime Time,” union president Barbara Enos said. They will have professional training and work in groups on issues such as computer training or curriculum, she said.
Enos, who declined to give the vote totals, said it was better for the sessions to be before school because teachers have obligations afterward, such as coaching or supervising student activities.
“We did have some parents come talk to us with concerns,” she said.
Alegant said parent notification is something that school principals will have to work on once the formal vote is taken.
The schools have call lists and likely will notify families individually, she said.
There are about a dozen spots open at the Oberlin Early Childhood Center, which has a maximum 36 spots before and after school for youngsters, according to Carrie Fiala, executive director.
Buses pick up children left at the nonprofit center at 317 E. College St., so the center will provide relief for those who don’t have relatives or trusted neighbors to watch the children, she said. The center is open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and can be reached weekdays at (440) 774-8193. There is a sliding fee scale and tuition assistance for low-income individuals, she said.
“It’s the workers who need to go early in the morning who will be affected,” she said.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.

2007-08 Oberlin school hours
New planned class times:
* Eastwood Elementary (Pre-kindergarten to grade two) 9:20 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
* Prospect Elementary (grades three to five) 9:25 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
* Langston Middle School (grades six to eight) 8:25 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
* Oberlin High School (grades nine to 12)  8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.