To the Editor:

I’m writing regarding the issue of school start times, which has become a heated debate in our community. I’m not here to discuss whether it’s good or bad. We all read the science, and, overall, we all know it’s well researched and documented. I am here, however, to discuss how disappointed I am in our community for the negativity surrounding this debate, especially the ridicule, bashing and denouncing of our elected board of education members, administration and community members involved in the process.

When it’s time for candidates to declare they want to run, we certainly don’t have an endless list of those volunteering. In fact, in many past elections, candidates have run unopposed! So when these community leaders step up to the plate, and give up their free time and family time to do the work necessary to help our school district succeed, it is disheartening to see their countless hours they have put into it being ridiculed. They’re not in it to benefit themselves, clearly. They get nothing out of this other than the desire to help our school district and our students.

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At the Jan. 21 board of education meeting, our superintendent spoke about the process and time frame in which the issue of school start times conversation was laid out. It was very clear that this particular issue has been on the table, in the open, for over a year. This has not been the only issue they are tackling or dealing with either. There are countless other agenda items and committee discussions that are had. The board of education is a balanced group. They are fair, they are transparent and they have worked voluntarily to carry out the duties and obligations so many of us don’t have the time or energy to do. And they deserve our respect.

You don’t have to agree, you can disagree, but to denounce or accuse our board of education members of deception is wrong. There is no conspiracy. There is no hidden agenda. No one else is directly benefiting from their work or decisions but our children. The community wanted a “plan.” We got a plan. A resolution has been adopted by a 7-1-1 vote to move forward with forming a citizens advisory committee to develop a plan for implementation. You’ll be able to find the resolution and the other info here: https://www.brrsd.org/about/strategic-planning/school-schedules

With the passing of the resolution, it is now time for the community to let the work be done. It is clear that we have a well-rounded board of education. They are there to ensure the process of planning is done, and done right. Knowing that the idea of this change is supported by the board of education, the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association and the other associations in district means it’s time to move the conversation from “for and against” to “how and when.” If you want to be an engaged citizen or parent in the conversation, consider using your words wisely: show compassion, empathy, diplomacy and facts. Accusations, opinions and negativity will get us nowhere.

I encourage members of the community to continue to attend the board of education meetings or visit their website to stay up to date on the issues. If you cannot attend meetings, audio and minutes are provided for review on the website as well. It’s all there for us.

Sincerely,

Stacey Friedlander

Bridgewater