Janesville66.4°

Are kids at school too early?

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 29, 2008
— The complaint of a group of parents might help a lot of schoolchildren get out of the cold.

Parents in the Deerfield subdivision complained that their children have to be at the bus stop by 6:30 a.m. and are dropped off at Edison Middle School about 7:10 each morning.


That exposes the kids to the elements and unsavory characters that might be in the neighborhood, parent Jeff Wagner said at a committee meeting Tuesday attended by many school board members.


Some parents and a city bus drop off other students even earlier, according to a study by district staff.


The school does not provide supervision of students until 7:15. School starts at 8.


The situation means a 9 1/2-hour school day for a sixth-grader, Wagner said.


"Where is the time for homework? Where is the time for family? Where is the rest?" Wagner said.


The problem is that the same bus runs the same route twice each morning, one for middle and high school students and one for elementary students. It appears there isn't enough time for the bus to make both runs unless it starts that early.


The solution could be adding another bus, but that would cost about $10,000 just for the rest of this school year, said Doug Bunton, district business director.


Kids aren't allowed inside Edison until 7:45 a.m. unless the weather is bad, school board members learned.


Several board members said that they didn't want children standing for that long in the cold.


Lori Stottler said the schools ask parents not to drop off kids until 15 minutes before school starts, and yet the school bus drops these kids off 50 minutes early.


"Busing them and making them stand outside is not a good solution," Stottler said.


But providing supervision for students before 7:15 would cost more money, Bunton said.


Board member Tim Cullen suggested that the administration develop a policy stating the earliest time a child can be dropped off at a school.


Cullen noted that Parker High School students on the same route are allowed to enter their school immediately when dropped off around 7 a.m., and he said the administration should provide an answer as to why the Edison students have to wait outside.


The policy also should address homebound bus times, board member Gregory Ardrey said.


Ardrey said he learned in the discussion that before-school supervision is available for Van Buren Elementary students at 7:55 a.m., but at his child's school, Monroe, supervision starts at 8:05. Ardrey said the start time should be consistent.


"I think it should be addressed before the snow flies," board member Bill Sodemann said.


And as Sodemann noted, that could be any minute now.



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