WARSAW — The Warsaw Community School Board of School Trustees approved a recommendation on later start times for the school corporation during a meeting on Monday, Feb. 24.
WCS Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert proposed that the start times for secondary schools be 15 minutes later, with start times for elementary schools recommended be 10 minutes later. During his presentation to board members, Hoffert presented statistics from the school start time survey that was issued in January. Community members, WCS parents and staff, as well as the corporation’s middle and high school students, were the respective demographics asked to take the survey.
In the survey, participants were asked to rate their most preferred option out of three choices. According to the survey’s results, a plurality occurred between the three options provided in the survey. The option of keeping school start times the same led with 44 percent, with 31 percent voting to push all of the times 30 minutes later in the day.
“We realized there is not a majority opinion,” said Hoffert. “Keeping things the same was not the majority choice because of the plurality, but it was the choice.”
The survey’s results also showed that 57 percent desired a change in school start times but were split on what the change would look like. In his presentation, Hoffert showed a chart that said Indiana’s average start time for secondary schools is 8 a.m.
“I looked at that average and tried to figure out, ‘What gets us closer to that average?'” said Hoffert. “What also keeps students from being on the bus at 5:45 in the morning? I really believe this is a better solution. I recognize the medical research and that this would put us more in line with the state average. This would also provide more safety when it comes to drivers getting students to schools in the mornings.”
Hoffert also discussed the idea of implementing more school bus routes for Claypool and Leesburg Elementary Schools in order to potentially make the time students are on buses shorter.
“I figured that would be something we can explore in the spring to see if we can have all of our elementary schools lined up with a 9:10 start time,” said Hoffert.
The board approved Hoffert’s recommendation with a 4-3 vote, with board members Randy Polston, Brad Johnson and Jay Baumgartner voting in opposition.
Dr. Caitlin Ryser addressed the board toward the end of the meeting and thanked members for approving the recommendation. Ryser presented information to the board in January 2019 regarding evidence on the benefits later school start times have for middle school and high school students.
“I do think what you passed tonight is a start to getting closer to healthier start times,” said Ryser.
In other business, School Resource Officer Roy Navarro held a presentation on what is becoming more frequent in regards to students vaping at schools.
“We’re looking at how we, as SROs, are going to further address this,” said Navarro. “I put 100 percent into what we have to teach these students, and I think vaping is going to become more glamorized. And I think it’s going to become more plain sight. I’ve been telling the guys, ‘We need to keep up on all the latest things happening with this.'”
Navarro also mentioned a YouTube channel that shows how to “Juul in school.”
“They were talking about how to just take punishment if they’re caught vaping, because vaping is no longer a big deal in school,” said Navarro in regards to the YouTube channel. “The one big thing I always tell my D.A.R.E. kids is, you know, they say vaping is a safer choice to smoking. And I tell them it’s safer, but it’s not safe.”
In regards to students who are caught vaping, Navarro said they are ticketed and typically go through teen court.
“Everyone gets a ticket,” said Navarro. “It’s a warning. What that does is get sent to probation. From there, they can either pay a fine or go through teen court. Teen court is there for them to understand ‘These are the ramifications for when you have an issue like this.’ Punishment from a judge could be service, it could be attending a class, or paying a fine; the fine is typically $150.”
Navarro said a student’s first warning for vaping doesn’t go on their permanent record; however, a second instance will be placed on the student’s record.
During the meeting, Chief Academic Officer Dr. David Robertson told the board that new school zone signs with lights have been recently implemented on Husky Trail at Harrison Elementary School.
“These lights are really customizable,” said Robertson. “We’re in the process of beta testing right now and we’re anticipating a March 1 roll out date for that.”
In other business, the board:
- Recognized and thanked Suzie Light, Kosciusko County Community Foundation CEO. Light is stepping down from her position on March 1 due to retirement.
- Heard a presentation from several of the school corporation’s principals regarding a University of Virginia workshop. Twenty-six educators from WCS attended the workshop in New Mexico.
- Gave permission for Warsaw Community High School classroom renovations and a paneling project for the Warsaw Area Career Center to occur.
The board’s next work session will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. The next regular meeting session will be at 7 p.m. Monday, March 23.