SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Students in Lakeland’s high schools, middle school and elementary schools will have to rise and shine a little earlier this year.
The district announced last week that it has made last-minute alterations to its schedule to comply with new state regulations. The regulations require the district to have 900 hours per year at the elementary school level and 990 hours at the middle school and high schools, said Jean Miccio, assistant superintendent for instruction.
- High Schools: 7:33 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Middle School: 9:15 a.m.-3:35 p.m.
- Elementary Schools: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
- High Schools: 7:20 a.m.-2:02 p.m.
- Middle School: 9 a.m.-3:37 p.m.
- Elementary Schools: 8:20 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
With the previous hours, the district had 951 hours of instruction at the high school level, 955 at the middle school level, and 904 at the elementary school level.
Now, the district has 996 at the high schools, 999 at the middle school and 933 at the elementary schools.
“Even though the elementary school had enough hours to meet the regulations, we need to change their hours now in order to accommodate the bus schedules,” Miccio said.
Dr. George Stone, superintendent of Lakeland schools, said the regulations were finalized on July 19 by the New York State Education Department. He said Lakeland needed to comply with the regulations in order to continue to receive state aid.
“We regret the late notice, but this change was out of our control until now,” Stone wrote in a message to parents.
On Facebook, many parents were understanding of the state regulations, but some questioned why the extra minutes were tacked onto the beginning of the day instead of at the end, especially at the high school level.
This prompted Stone to release a follow-up statement on Friday, Aug. 3. He said the decision to start the day earlier was driven by Lakeland’s transportation system.
“The same buses are used to first transport the high school students, followed by elementary students and finally the middle school students,” Stone wrote. “If the district is required to change the start or end time at any school, then the start or end time must change accordingly at all the schools. Adding minutes to the start of the day to all our schools allows dismissal time to stay approximately the same as previous years.”
Therefore, Stone said, if Lakeland added minutes to the end of the high school day, it would also mean adding minutes to the end of the middle school and elementary school days.
“This would make final dismissal at the middle school around 4 p.m. with students possibly arriving home at 5 p.m. or later,” he said. “We believe this would create a more unacceptable situation than starting 10 minutes earlier.”
Stone said the new hours are not set in stone going forward, and the district may revisit them.
“Should we feel there is a better way to schedule the school day, we would consider it for the 2019-2020 school year,” he wrote.