Cd’A schools get started on when to start classes

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COEUR d’ALENE — Before Coeur d'Alene School District officials make any decisions about later school day start times, they want to hear from you.

Parents and guardians of students in any grade and members of the community are invited to apply to serve on the advisory committee, which will study the impact of later start time on Coeur d'Alene Public Schools operations and families. The committee will first meet in September and continue working until recommendations are ready to go to the Board of Trustees.

The committee will research all implications of changing school start times within the district and the community, including:

• Afterschool care for kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students if the elementary school day is adjusted to start and end earlier

• The impact on extracurricular activities

• Student transportation

• Potential loss of instructional time

• Parent work schedules

More than a quarter of the advisory committee must be people other than public educators, district staff or school board members.

"Careful considerations for inclusion in committee membership will be made to ensure diverse perspectives are represented," school district spokesman Scott Maben wrote in a release to The Press.

Examining later start times was part of the resolution that Superintendent Steve Cook presented during the May school board meeting. Trustees approved the resolution that night.

The resolution calls for extensive research into the topic. Cook is to present information, data and the likely impact of such changes, as well as recommendations regarding changes in elementary and secondary school start times, changes in attendance and boundaries, common bell schedules and graduation requirements at the comprehensive high schools and the ability to share staff between the high schools.

An ad hoc committee will discuss start times. An administrative committee will work on common schedules and graduation requirements (with considerations of Venture High School).

The goal is for new plans to take effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

"Changing our school start times would have implications for all student and families in the district, from high school down through preschool," Cook said. "It's essential that our advisory committee have representation from families of students at all levels so that we fully consider the potential impact of any changes on their routines, work schedules and home life. But it's also important that we hear from others in the community who would be affected by any changes. That may include daycare providers, businesses that employ teenagers after school, and organizations that rely on student volunteers."

The biggest challenge, he said, is "to craft a proposed solution that will be best for our students at all levels and enhance their opportunities for learning, while balancing the needs and interests of our families."

Visit www.cdaschools.org/start-times to apply to be a committee member. Applications are due by Aug. 31 and will be presented to the school board Sept. 9.

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