I am writing in response to the TAP’s article on January 24th, which reported on the issue of school start times in East Brunswick, and the presentation of the district’s superintendent, Dr. Victor Valeski, at the most recent board of education meeting held on January 22nd. There are misstatements in that report, the board of education has not made a final decision yet, and I look forward to the TAP’s corrections. I am a parent who attended the meeting, and I wanted to share the proceedings that took place after Dr. Valeski’s presentation. The entire meeting can be viewed online at the district's website, at www.ebnet.org.
During the “Good of the Cause”, where members from the public can speak to the board, several parents took the opportunity to share their concerns on this issue.
One parent talked about the statistical validity of the tests performed. That there is published data that should be relied upon that demonstrate the benefits of later school start times for secondary schools.
One parent explained the sleep deprivation her child went through during her high school years, and the impact the sleep loss had on her well-being.
One parent spoke about the benefits of having elementary children start school earlier than the secondary school children. That perhaps if “before care” can be eliminated because school will start early, and longer time is needed in “after care” instead, an improved program could be created for the children. And that younger children would actually be safer at the early morning bus stop, because it is likely that a parent will be with them, where our older children are walking and waiting in the dark by themselves.
I spoke about other options available to the district that could be explored before a final decision by the board is made. Enlisting the consulting services of logistics experts at one of our bus companies, for example, to review our transportation system, and possible time changes.
One parent mentioned the fact that the Toms River, NJ school district, which has a student population twice the size of East Brunswick, has committed to exploring options to push back school start times. That maybe this could be an opportunity for districts to share ideas.
And finally, two 8th grade students spontaneously took to the podium to share their experiences on how tired they and their peers are in school.
This is an issue that has many facets, and hopefully our school district will continue to explore the pros and cons, in order to ensure a healthy school environment for our children; one in which they can have the opportunity to perform at their highest potential.
EB Parents for Healthy School Start Times
EDITOR'S NOTE: I have made edits to the original story based on conversations Mrs. Famiglietti and I had regarding the original; story, and prior to receiving this letter. I felt it important to run the letter as is regardless. We welcome opposing points of view, and thank her for her assistance in reflecting the needed changes.