Letter: Reason for a school time change

Dear Parents and UCFSD Community,

Four years ago, students from Unionville High School approached our Board and administration lobbying for a later start time. They cited the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, National Sleep Foundation, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of whom acknowledge that later school start times lead to increased performance, health, and brain development in teens. Our students argued that the science was on their side.

Indeed, research shows there are many benefits from later school start times, including decreases in teen depression, car crashes, behavior problems, discipline referrals, absenteeism, and tardiness. Given our students’ compelling argument — the UCF Board asked the administration to form a committee and conduct an exhaustive review of our school start times. The committee found that, though not without challenges, the benefits to student health and well-being were difficult to ignore.

Monday night, the board approved a change in UCF school start times beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. For next year, the middle school and high school student day will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at 2:43 p.m. The elementary student day will begin at 9:10 a.m. and end at 3:40 p.m. I understand that there may be questions about the transition and how it may affect you and your family. Please read below for answers to a number of frequently asked questions.

Finally, I commend the work of the members of the School Start Time Committee and the members of the UCF Board. The committee and Board diligently listened to competing points of view and made a decision that is in the best interest of our children. 

John Sanville,
Superintendent of Schools
Unionville-Chadds Ford School District

How will the district go about implementing this change - is there a central contact person?

·         The new school start times will impact all of us.  A change of this scope requires much planning and coordination.  A team has been brought together under John Nolen’s leadership to address and coordinate schedule changes.  

·         A permanent list of schedule changes and FAQs will be updated and available on The School Start Time website.  The communications team is here to help - please forward your questions to communications@ucfsd.net

What time will school start and end?

·         Elementary  - 9:10 AM - 3:40 PM

·         High School/Middle School - 8:00 AM - 2:43 PM

What time is bus pick up in the morning? Drop off in the afternoon?

·         Bus pick-up times vary by location. As has been our practice -- finalized bus pickup and drop off times will be provided to families over the summer. It is reasonable to expect MS and HS pickup and drop off times to be 25 minutes later. You can expect elementary school pickup and drop off times to be 15 minutes later.

What time is the building open for child drop off?

·         Elementary drop off times will remain as today -- 8:40 AM.  We are working on opportunities for a 8:30 AM drop off.

·         Middle School drop off time will shift to 7:25.  We are exploring a fee based  Y-Care option for earlier drop off times at the middle school.

·         The current before school activities practices for the high school will remain in effect with students working directly with teachers and advisors.

How does this change impact Y-Care at the elementary schools?

·         Y- Care will be available starting at 7:00 AM and after school care will be available until 6:00 PM in the evening.

How will this change impact the timing of athletics?

·         We are investigating our options to limit the number of early dismissals so as to reduce the impact of students missing instructional time last period for athletic events.  This will be a primary goal of the newly approved Supervisor of Athletics.

·         As today, practice times will continue to be after the academic day is concluded.

How will this change impact other after school activities?

·         In general all after school activities will continue as they do now to begin after  the conclusion of the academic day.

·         This applies to clubs, activities and facilities such as the libraries and cafeterias

Will there still be an after school activities bus?

·         Yes, it will run 25 minutes later -- 5:25

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