Archive for Thursday, February 20, 2003

Schools to start earlier next year

Seniors’ open lunch privileges under Board’s consideration

February 20, 2003

Eudora students will have to set their alarms 15 minutes earlier next school year, because the district's schools will be commencing classes that much earlier.

After talking with other administrators, who in turn talked with their own staff and site councils, Eudora High School Principal Dale Sample brought the idea before the USD 491 Board of Education Feb. 13. Sample said 87 hours of school time was lost a year because of students leaving early to be on time for athletic and other extracurricular events.

Eudora Middle School Principal Don Grosdidier said active students at his school lost about 31 hours combined. In both schools, afternoon events cause students to regularly miss the same classes -- those they take during the sixth and seventh hours. At the middle school, Grosdidier said mainly electives were offered those hours, but next year students will have core classes at the end of the day.

To make bus routes work, all of the district's schools, including Nottingham and West elementary schools, will shift as well. Sample said he initially wanted to start school 30 minutes earlier. After consultation with staff, including food services director Cindy Cavenaugh, who has to schedule students' lunch periods, it was decided 15 minutes was a better solution. Sample said concerns with the earlier start time included staff having to drop children off at daycare earlier, and Nottingham Principal Jim Lauer said students already queued up at the building before school started.

The Board decided to delay a decision on Sample's other suggestion, that the district close lunch for seniors, who now can leave the building during the period. With the new high school open, Sample said the larger cafeteria facilities would be better-able to serve all students during lunch periods.

Board member Kenny Massey said open senior lunches were originally designed as a senior privilege rather than as a way to free up space in the cafeteria, but he said it was understood open lunch could be taken away at any time. Sample said the school had seen some accidents during open lunch, when seniors have 25 minutes to head north on Church Street to grab a bite to eat and make it back to school on time.

The district currently fed between 25 and 30 seniors, Cavenaugh said, and with the new building was looking to offer more choices, such as serving ethnic cuisine like Chinese, Mexican and Italian in an alternate food line.

"The more students we serve, the more choices we can offer," she said.

When the Board asked how students would react to a decision, Sample said he thought students would be opposed because a closed lunch would take away some of their freedom. The Board didn't make a decision at the Feb. 13 meeting.

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