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North Hills Superintendent Proposes Changes in School Start & Dismissal Times

Superintendent Dr. Patrick Mannarino argues that by slightly modifying the hours of the school day at all grade levels, the district could save up to $417,870 in transportation costs.

North Hills Schools superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino Monday released details of a proposal to alter the start and dismissal times of all the schools in the district in order to streamline the district's transportation costs. 

"These small time changes would allow the district to reduce the number of buses required to serve our students, saving up to nearly $417,870 yearly while preserving our quality educational programs," said Mannarino. "Basically, district buses would be utilized to their maximum potential with less down time between runs."

Mannarino said with the current fiscal climate, and few signs of increased funding from Harrisburg, he has save money wherever he can.

"I've been here 11 years and we have some amazing things going on and now, sitting in this chair, I need to do everything I can to protect those programs as much as possible," he said. "We're in the era of tearing down the walls of public education. Unfortunately, that's the reality that we are living in."

Proposed Time Changes

School

Current Start

Current Dismissal

Proposed Start

Proposed Dismissal

Sr. High (grades 9-12)

7:40 a.m.

2:45 p.m.

7:20 a.m.

2 p.m.

Jr. High (grades 7-8)

7:40 a.m.

2:45 p.m.

7:50 a.m.

2:50 p.m.

Highcliff/West View Elementary

9 a.m.

3:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m.

3:00 p.m.

Ross/McIntyre Elementary

9 a.m.

3:30 p.m.

9:15 a.m.

3:45 p.m.

Benefits

In addition to reducing the district's transportation costs, Mannarino said the proposed changes will increase safety at the junior and senior high schools.

"There would be no gridlock on the hilltop in the morning or afternoon because we've split the bus traffic in half," said Mannarino. "The middle school students (7th and 8th grade) will be arriving while the high school students are already in class. Add to that, the high school students who park in the lot adjacent to the junior high won't have to dodge the middle school students' buses while walking to the high school. That solves a major safety issue that we've known about for a long time." 

Academically, the proposed schedule time would also allow administrators to create an activities period for 7th and 8th grade students.

"It also allows for a true team-teaching model proven to raise academic excelence during this transitional time for teenagers," Mannarino said.

What's Next

Parents will get their say in the months leading up to a decision about this plan.

"We've established a task force of our PTA leadership that represents a cross section of North Hills school district parents," said Mannarino. "We're going to meet weekly through February so that if anything pops up we didn't think of, this group is going to try to iron through some of those problems." (See attached .pdf for the meeting schedule.)

In addition, the plan will be the subject of school board meetings in January and early February. Mannarino said a final decision would need to be made by Feb. 18 in order to give administrators time to implement it for the 2013-2014 school year.

What do you think of the proposed changes? Tell us in the comments box below.

See the attached .pdf for answers to frequently asked questions about the proposal.

Check out some of today's other top stories here .

Cheryl B. December 05, 2012 at 03:09 PM
It may give the Ross & McIntyre elementary children a few extra minutes to sleep, but the children attending Highcliff and West View will be forced to get up up even earlier that they are now.
Lisa Herbert-Dunbar December 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
What this article doesn't tell you is that they are also going to eliminate homeroom, shorten lunch to 30 minutes, and reduce time between classes to 4 minutes. My kids used to get tutoring help from teachers during lunch and homeroom, and they also utlized that time to find out what work they missed from absences. I don't think this part of the plan makes much sense. I have also heard of the studies mentioned above that show high school students do better when the start LATER, rather than earlier.
Keith January 05, 2013 at 04:02 PM
It may not be important to a lot of people but what about the kids that go to McIntyre and Ross that are involved in sports. Many of them have practices starting at 5pm which is already difficult to get to with the existing schedule now they will be even more pressed for time. The school district may not be concern with our children's extra curricular activities but, it is an important factor in the lives of our children.
Keith January 05, 2013 at 04:10 PM
The start time already is early enough for our high school students who most of them have jobs or are involved in sports or clubs that sometimes don't let them even start homework until 9 or 10pm. There have been several mornings that I had to take my child in late just so he could get an hour extra sleep because he was up until 1am doing homework and on average he is doing homework until 11pm. I understand that the school district is only concerned about academics but, it is important for our kids to be well rounded.
Jeff February 19, 2013 at 12:28 AM
I don't live in the district but I'm reading great comments from community members on a complicated subject. Tough times in education throughout the state, great to see people working on the problem instead of bashing every district decision.

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