2017 CAPA School Start Time Response

February 6, 2017

2017 CAPA Response to HCPSS School Start Time

1/30/2017
CAPA School Start Time Committee members:
Chao Wu (CAPA board member), Hongling Zhou (CAPA board member), Jianing Zeng,
Yan Zhang, Lingyu Chen, Philip Peng, Shaolin Liu, Gordon Gao
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We commend the School Start and Dismissal Time Committee (SSDT) and BOE's efforts in addressing the need of secondary students. After careful evaluation, we conclude that the proposed models unduly affect the elementary school students, and strongly
oppose the start time of elementary school in any of the four new models.

We fully understand the problem that SSDT is trying to solve, and support that middle school or high school students should have a start time no earlier than 8:15 AM. However,
it is rather surprising that the newly proposed models try to solve the secondary student's problem by sacrificing the health and welfare of elementary students.

In all the four models, the elementary schools have the earliest start time ranging from 7:30 AM to 8:15 AM. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 10-12 hours's sleep time per night for elementary students.  This means that of any of the new models
were implemented, elementary students need to get on bed by 7-8 PM, which is simply infeasible for many working parents who can't get to home by 6 PM. This will also significantly affect the evening activities for a sizable proportion of elementary
students. As a result, the new models will deprive the elementary students necessary sleep time, which is more damaging than to secondary students.

Aside from health issues, walking to/ waiting at bus stops in the darkness early in the morning also creates safety hazard for young children who lack the sufficient self-control compared to secondary students.

In addition, under the new models, the dismissal time for elementary schools ranges from 2:15 PM to 3 PM. This leads to longer after care and increases financial burden for working families, particularly single parent and low income families.

According to the SSDT committee report dated November 17, 2016, a wide variety of factors had been considered in reviewing the impact of a change in start and dismissal times. The glaringly missing factors among the impact considerations are the health of
elementary students and the needs of their families. This is in contrary to the Goal of HCPSS for students, that EVERY student achieves academic excellence in an inspiring, engaging and supportive environment.

Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County (CAPA-HC) firmly believes that the school should develop a school start time model that takes into consideration of all students, with their health as the most important factor. We have the following position
with respect to new school start time models:

    1.    We strongly oppose all the 4 proposed school starting time models presented to the board on November 17, 2016.  We request that all elementary schools' start time should be no earlier than the current start time, i.e., 8:35 AM.

    2.    We fully support the decision to delay school start time for middle and high schools' start times.

    3.    We fully support SSDT and BOE's continuing effort to accommodate all students' need for better school start time.

    4.    We have the following requests and suggestions with regard to the school's efforts to develop a suitable school start time for all students and their families:
          a)    Transparency should be maintained throughout the entire process.
              i.    The data collected by the BOE and the model developed by the PTO should be made available to all stakeholders, especially parents.

              ii.    The model development and calculation of the impact on the costs from contractors should be made accessible to the stakeholders.

          b)    All stakeholders including elementary parents should have fair representation in the SSDT committee.

          c)    Community feedback should be collected from earlier stage of the process, not at the end when all the money is already spent.

          d)    In order to build more accurate models for school bus scheduling and budget, real time traffic data should be used. As far as we are aware of, related data is available from Google, as well as more than 10 other traffic data providers. If no such data is available, we suggest to use each bus driver's smart phone to start collect such data as soon as possible. Abundant apps such as Glympse, GPS Tracker,  or Family Locator can provide detailed time-location data of the school buses, with costs ranging from free to $5 only.

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