• Georgetown Times
  • Waccamaw Times
  • Inlet Outlook

Plan to delay school start times dead - at least for now

  • Friday, November 15, 2013

  • Updated Wednesday, November 20, 2013 4:05 pm

A proposed plan to begin classes within the Georgetown County School District later in the morning has failed to gain traction and the idea is dead - at least district-wide.

However, district leaders say if parents and school officials in individual attendance areas would like to move forward with the idea they can do so.

Dr. Mike Cafaro, the district’s director of student support services, recently met with a committee of 24 people to discuss the later start time idea which was first brought up by School Board Chairman Jim Dumm at a meeting in September.

Cafaro said the committee studied information about the pros and cons of a later start time, then decided “we will leave it to each attendance zone.”

The committee included five members of the school board, Cafaro said.

Dumm, in September, said he brought up the idea after studying the issue of the sleeping habits of teenagers.

“There is an awful lot of research out there suggesting teenagers stay up late. And, as a result they are not wide awake when they get to school,” Dumm told the Georgetown Times. “Later start times would help improve the level of work.”

Cafaro said if schools do decide to try for later start times, it would have to be supported from a grass roots level.

“It would need to be a community-based decision,” he said.

Even though the start times may not change, some schools may add as many as 20 additional days of classes for students next summer.

The idea of possibly increasing the number of school days from 180 to 200 for some students was brought up during last week’s school board meeting.

Cafaro said the idea is to keep struggling students from falling further behind during the summer.

The school board is expected to watch a video produced by Horizons National at an upcoming meeting. The video, narrated by Brian Williams of NBC News, deals with the impacts of summer vacation on children from different demographics.

The video compares a child from a middle income family with a child from a low income family. “The middle income child starts out with a six month lead” when the two start kindergarten, the video claims.

The gap is because the low income child does not have as much access to reading and early childhood education.

During the school year the students learn at the same rate but during the summer between kindergarten and first grade the middle income child “moves ahead about a month in reading” because learning in various forms continues over the summer, the video claims.

“The low income child falls back about two months during that summer,” Williams says. That pattern continues in the subsequent years causing and even wider gap.

Cafaro said the “tactical summer schools” would be held at the schools where the needs are the greatest.

“It all depends on funding,” he said.

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