Webster School Board approves changes for start times

(Photo: MGN)

Webster, N.Y. – Changes are coming to the Webster Central School District a year from now.

Tuesday night, the school district approved a change in start times.

Starting in 2019, elementary schools will start at 7:45 a.m., and secondary schools will start the day at 8:45 a.m.

Webster Central School District Superintendent Carmen Gumina said this change comes after a year of research, along with scientific backing that says high school aged kids need more time to sleep in the morning because they have a hard time falling to sleep early.

“Biochemically, in their brain, they are just not able to do that. So, they are falling asleep at 11:30 -12 o’clock, they are getting up at six and they are trying to function on about six to six and a half hours of sleep," Gumina said.

In a letter to parents, the district said it will spend the next year communicating the details. The district is looking to add more before and after care at the elementary schools to help families with this change.

“We really are going to be looking at how can we offer some quality wraparound care as well as extracurricular activities at every one of our elementary buildings," he said. "And we hope to have that in place by next September.”

Gumina said they are also aware that some of the youngest students will be getting on the bus in the dark a few weeks a year with this change.

"We are going to try to pick up children at their driveway or at one or two driveways apart, especially our youngest children. And then looking at does it make sense to buy every elementary child some bright reflector," he said.

Gumina does not believe other extracurricular activities will be impacted saying athletic events generally start at 4:30 p.m., about an hour after the new school day will end.

"The superintendents in Monroe County have been really supportive, and so have the athletic directors - have said if you're 10 or 15 minutes late, or if we have to start at 4:50, for Webster, that's okay," he said.

Parents of some of the youngest students worry that this change may not be right for their kids. Father of three elementary students, Anthony Demarco, said his kids wake up now around the same time their new school day will begin.

"They're ten, eight and six," said Demarco. "So it's directly going to impact us quite a bit."

Katrina Hall's son is starting kindergarten this year. She worries about an early start time and early dismissal.

"What I was excited about is that with the current school times, he would only be in daycare about an hour after school and maybe an hour before," said Hall. "With the new times next year, he could be at daycare for two-hours after school."

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