Board votes down proposal for late start for next year

After three hours of discussion and copious amounts of passionate public comments, the board voted on Thursday, March 23 in a four-to-one decision to reject the proposal of changing the start times for the 2017/2018 school year. The decision came after the board members were presented with the results of a survey conducted by the district that consulted the opinions of students, parents and staff. The survey itself came under scrutiny from parents who labeled the survey as biased and poorly written. Vice-President of the Board Linda Lees Dwyer dismissed the importance of the survey, while justifying her decision to propose the motion that kept the current start times. The motion was notably seconded by Clerk of the Board Greg Land who, at the opening of the discussion, did not seem to be ardently opposed to the proposition of the later start.

Trustee Marc Friedman was the only member of the board to make his unconditional support of the proposal known to the public and the other trustees at the beginning of the board discussion saying that he did not know “how we [the Board] , after seeing the research could look the public in the eye and not do this.” Friedman came under fire during the public comment section and through unofficial remarks made from the public during the time he was speaking. He was labeled as “uninformed,” and a “piece of work” from parents of students in the district opposed to the proposed change. He was the only member of the board to vote against keeping the current start times.

Four Burlingame students were present and voiced their opinions during the meeting of the board; juniors Claire Beswick and Tori Rickman, sophomore Lily Navab, and student board member Jasmine Samsami who sits on the board but does not have voting privileges. All four spoke in opposition to the proposition. No public comment expressed support for the proposition.

Although Navab “was pleased with the outcome,” she “thought the Board did not listen to us” as their comments in the time after the public spoke “weren’t related to what we spoke about.”

Tori Rickman, while speaking to the board, cited “equality” as being the heart of the issue, referencing that some kids would have to deal with the stress of increased traffic if the start times were pushed back.

The decision to retain the current start time was accompanied by the passing of four stipulations. The board voted to “study homework issue and create board policy and administrative regulations on this topic during 17/18 school year, explore ways to create more classes outside of traditional 1-7 schedule, encourage students to take 2-7 schedule if taking six classes, and recommend/require school collaboration times are moved to the morning.” These stipulations served the purpose of allowing the board to continue tackling the student sleep issue without “unilateral implementation.”

Thursday’s meeting was the final of three Board meetings to discuss this issue. The vote signaled the definitive end in an almost year-long struggle by the board and principals to fully explore this issue.

Posted on April 10, 2017 .