SB school start and dismissal times won't change in 2015

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South Bend, Ind. -- South Bend students won’t be hitting the snooze button this fall after a proposal to delay school start and dismissal times was tabled until next year.

The proposal called for a change in start times for 5th to 8th grade students from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. Dismissal would have moved from 2:55 p.m. to 4 p.m.

High school student would have seen the same delay in start time and a dismissal of 4 p.m. from the current 2:45 p.m. bell.

“That outcome was based on some pretty significant long-range research about being able to improve the sleep time for the adolescent brain,” said Dr. Carole Schmidt, Superintendent, South Bend School Corp.

Schmidt cited improved health, safety and academic benefits associated with increased sleep for teens.

Despite those advantages, the change won’t happen in 2015.

“It just seemed that every scenario we came up with there was some additional challenge,” Dr. Schmidt told the School Board on Monday.

Schmidt recommended that the board not implement the time change for the 2015-2016 school year to allow time for additional research and feedback.

Transportation concerns were chief among the logistical complications.

“We have a driver shortage with about a 12 percent absenteeism on a daily basis,” she said. “And so we want to make sure that we have enough time to address that issue to increase our service.”

The bus driver shortage has meant many drivers have had to pick up additional routes, leading to tardiness for students.

“Frankly, transportation really seems to be holding us up,” said John Anella, At-Large, South Bend School Board. “Honestly we're going to have to look at being more competitive from a pay stand point with drivers. I mean, that's probably one of the reasons we're having trouble attracting them.”

The high school athletics practice and game schedule also presented a conflict with the 4 p.m. dismissal time.

The athletic schedules for the 2015-2016 Northern Indiana Conference have already been set.

“While [coaches] also are very supportive of the philosophy of a later start time, we have to deal with some of the reality of the pieces and getting those in place,” Schmidt said.

The South Bend School Corporation plans to continue to research the topic and will present recommendation to the Board of School Trustees by December 2015 in regards to changing start times for the 2016-1017 schedule.