NCCS parents protest change in elementary start time PDF Print E-mail
Written by SUZANNE MOORE, Staff Writer   
Friday, April 06, 2007

CHAMPLAIN — Adding intensive reading instruction for primary grades means the Northeastern Clinton Central School day will start later for elementary students, beginning next school year.
Some parents, who would have to leave for work before their children get on the bus, feel left in the lurch.
"We're concerned that day care in this area is difficult to find already," Champlain mom Sarah Hunter told the NCCS School Board at this week's meeting.
"I don't want to see children left at home when they're not old enough ... because parents have no choice," said Laura Hoy of Rouses Point.


Now, students who attend NCCS's Rouses Point and Champlain elementary schools climb on the bus well before 8 a.m., when many parents have to be at work.
The Mooers children arrive at school about 7:50 a.m., waiting in the cafeteria until the start of school at 8:15 a.m.
The Rouses Point buses roll in at about 7:45 a.m.; those students also wait out the time until 8:15 a.m. in the lunchroom.
The plan for fall is to bus the elementary students separate from those who attend the Middle/High School, which would see no change from the present schedule.
The younger group would arrive at 8:40 a.m. and start the school day at 8:45 a.m., which Hebert said would eliminate the longtime "bus room" problem and give the teachers involved with the new Response to Intervention (RTI) program a half-hour daily for collaboration.


Response to Intervention teams classroom, remedial-reading and special-education teachers, who give daily English language arts instruction to grades K-2.
"In order to have an effective RTI team, it's important to have common planning time," Superintendent of Schools Robert Hebert told the crowd of more than 40 parents and grandparents at the meeting.
The district began looking into the program last November, with a board presentation on the program itself and discussion at subsequent meetings.


Recently, the district sent a letter to parents informing them of the impending start-time adjustment.
"I wish we would have been able to discuss this and have a better solution before we got the letter," said Samantha Blain of Champlain, who will have two children in school next year.
Her parents work, she said; she has no near neighbors, and, if there were room for her children at Champlain Children's Learning Center before school, she'd be paying $60 weekly "when I'm paying (school) taxes."
She might be forced to drop her children off at school early, she said, guessing other parents would do the same.
"We'd still have that bus room," she said.
"I start my job at 7:30," Hunter said, asking just how early the doors will open for waiting students.
"I understand that the program is needed ..." she said. "(But) my child is going to be lost in the cracks while saving those children left behind."
"You're taking two and a half hours out of instructional time a week if you do this common planning time," Mooers mom Kerri Gonyo said. "I can't grasp that at all."
"We have, right now, the longest elementary school day (in the region)," Hebert said. "(And) you need to find time for the teachers to collaborate to have a stronger educational program.
"I understand this is causing an impact, and I know change is hard," he said.


He did look into some possible solutions, he said, and is awaiting word from St. Mary's Academy in Champlain on whether the child-care program there could accommodate elementary students before school.
And he's checking into possible grants that an independent group could seek to establish some kind of program in the Rouses Point and Mooers buildings.
On the plus side, he pointed out, elementary-age children will no longer be riding the bus with the older children.


Why can't the teachers come in early to plan, someone called out from the back of the room.
"You guys got a real problem on your hands here," said Sam Blain, who is Samantha's father and a former School Board member. "You let this happen by not talking to these people first. You're going to have to fix it."
"Is it a done deal?" more than one parent called out.
"We will take what you've said under advisement," board Vice President Linda Gonyo-Horne said, further speech drowned out by a rising murmur from the crowd.
"We have the decision to vote the budget down ..." Kerri Gonyo called out.
"Give us an opportunity to look into the options Mr. Hebert has looked into for alternative care for your children," Gonyo-Horne replied, "and we will get back to you."



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