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Gowanda eyes later start time

GOWANDA — The Gowanda Central School District is always doing their best to stay on top of new studies and methods for how they can improve education at their school. During Wednesday night’s meeting, one thing that was discussed was moving the start time for school back.

“I think it does benefit us to take a look at it,” said Board Member Mark Nephew. “It does impact our student’s lives.”

Nephew acknowledged that it might be difficult to sync up bus runs, but even a 30-minute difference would be of a benefit for the students. Board Member Dollene Christopher added that school districts in the area start later than Gowanda anyway, so the theoretical half hour Nephew is in favor of wouldn’t be a drastic difference.

“I think most districts around here start much later than Gowanda does,” Christopher said. “A half hour I don’t see as a huge detriment in any regard. However, is it worth doing? Is there a cost benefit that comes with it? My question is would you want to spend time looking at that?”

Board Member Max Graham said that a decision like that should heavily revolve around the community’s opinion and what the parents want to do.

“One of the first steps for anything is reaching out to the stakeholders and seeing if the community has interest,” Graham said. “If the majority of the community says they have a set schedule with the kids and they want to keep it, why is it something we’re chasing down? It’s okay that we may have interest, but that doesn’t mean the community does.”

Graham added that considerations for the faculty and staff have to be taken into account as well, saying it may not work for them either. Christopher said that a similar interest survey went out a few years ago, and at the time, there wasn’t enough information for her to be interested in it. Christopher added that should the school want to move forward gathering community interest, they should have the specifics ironed out first.

“We should have a little more information with the direction we’d like to go,” Christopher said. “Is it an hour? Is it a half hour? How does it shift our after-school activities? How does it affect the younger kids? These are all things we should know before sending it out.”

Gowanda Superintendent Dr. Robert Anderson said that the issue is multifaceted, and there are a few different ways the school could go when looking at delayed start times.

“We had three options,” Dr. Anderson said. “We could have the elementary kids start earlier and the high school kids starting later. One standard run is also an option, but there’s evidence to suggest that doesn’t work. Then the other option is to do a quick rotation, I’m not sure what the sweet spot would be.”

Dr. Anderson said most people didn’t like the staggered start times, as it would have a greater impact after school activities. Ultimately, the Board reached a consensus that now is not the time to focus on that, given the state of returning to school with the pandemic. So while it is something the Board is interested in, each member acknowledged there are more pressing matters to tend to first.

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