School Board Member Explains Start-Times


Claire Stowe, Editor-in-Chief

Reverberations of the sudden change in start-times are still being felt across the South Bend Community School Corporation [SBCSC] even several weeks after being implemented. Students face transportation difficulties or differences and must adapt to a new schedule, while teachers and parents solve various child-care or professional issues. The change, made at the August 6th SBCSC School Board meeting, lacked clarity, leaving students and staff still questioning the origins of the modification.

The corporation credits the schedule revision to transportation issues. “The most direct issue was the lack of drivers.  Once the Department of Transportation knew an approximate number of students who might need a bus this fall, its routers determined the number of routes, drivers and buses needed. I understand that they began to see the discrepancy mid-summer and needed a quick solution so the district could avoid late arrivals and missed routes again this fall,” commented Jay Caponigro, a member of the SBCSC School Board. Caponigro, however, expressed some frustration at the school board meeting which determined this change. “My frustration at the board meeting [was] because the board had been told by transportation that a new, later bell schedule would work back in December, 2017, when we voted on the change.  People had time to adjust to such a dramatic change from January to August, in my opinion. The subsequent start-time change from 8:30am to 9:00 A.M as presented – with less than one month before school started – put many families and staff in difficult positions.” When asked by whom the final decision was made, Caponigro responded by stating it was an “administrative decision.”

Several students and staff members have expressed displeasure with the newly implemented start-times. Issues with child-care, transportation, and after-school activities have all caused discontent among the SBCSC community. Many students and parents also have felt disapproval with the start-time change due to the effect on sports, which have been pushed further into the evening, causing some very late evenings for students.  However, Caponigro believes that despite this issue, the change will benefit the students. “The original initiative to move the start time later for older students was based on studies that teens’ brains are generally wired to be awake later, and to be less awake early in the morning. That goal is still being addressed. Unfortunately, there was not much time to make the 1/2 hour adjustment for sports and after-school schedules, but I have confidence that the later start time will result in better performance for our older students.”