Shorter school days for M'ville students?

Zoe Greszler • Updated Jan 9, 2019 at 7:54 AM

MONROEVILLE — The Monroeville school board voted in a slight change in leadership Monday before beginning discussion of a bigger change in the 2019-2020 academic calendar.

The school board was led by Nancy Brown for 2018, with Betsy Ruggles serving as her vice president. At Monday’s organizational meeting, from which Brown was absent, the board voted for the two women to swap positions. 

One of the first things the new year board did in the regular meeting that followed was to begin discussing the 2019-2020 school-year calendar. Superintendent Ralph Moore asked the board to begin considering what will be needed for the new school year and to consider two possible changes.

Moore asked the board members to begin thinking over two more significant changes: Eliminating two-hour delays and shortening student school days. Moore said the two go hand in hand. Since two-hour delays are used as professional development time for the teachers and staff, if removed from the calendar, he said the time would need to be made up elsewhere.

The superintendent said teachers are required to be at the school by 7:30 a.m., with students required to be there at 7:45. He said the district is in discussion with the teachers’ union representatives and considering options of pushing the student start time back to 8:15 — using some of that 45 minutes for professional development instead. 

“We want to look at shortening the student days,” Moore said, adding the union representatives were in favor of considering the idea. “We’ll look at voting on it in March. We’d still be ending at the same time each day.”

Board member Mike Helmstetter was in favor of looking into the later start time, citing research backing the benefits. 

“It’s been proven in studies that a later start time is better — it’s healthier for students and they can get more sleep,” he said.

“Plus it’s safer with the weather,” Moore added. “From a safety standpoint, it’s better. From an academic standpoint, it’s better. ... So we’re going to work on a calendar that works for the parents, our kids and that continues to improve the academic achievement of our kids that we strive for.”

Also voted on at the organizational meeting were the following liaisons and committee assignments:

• Ohio School Boards Association legislative liaison: Dan Bemis

• Student achievement liaison: Ruggles

• Finance committee members: Bemis and Brown

• Personnel committee members: Melissa Allen and Bemis

• Facilities committee members: Helmstetter and Brown

• Policy committee members: Allen and Brown

• School safety committee members: Helmstetter and Ruggles

• Public related communications committee members: Ruggles and Allen

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