In a 7-2 vote, the school board has voted to change the Radnor High School start time to 8:30.
One of the biggest implications of the new start time is the flow of on King of Prussia Road, as well as around the middle school. In regards to the high school, there are many factors to consider in evaluating the amount of traffic that will be present. It is estimated that around 300 students drive to school everyday and in addition to this, around 200 students are dropped off at the high school in the morning. At this time the busses will also be dropping students off. Across the street, Penn Medicine will also be up and running, with doctors and patients trying to get to their destination.
“I am concerned about the number of cars that are trying to get into that site at the same exact time as the business are in their normal work flow. It is already a nightmare in the morning now and creates a real safety issue for me. I think we need to see what happens when the Penn building opens and see how the traffic really is.” (Patricia Booker)
Although there are many seen disadvantages regarding the amount of traffic, Mr. Batchelor disagrees, and argues that the traffic flow might actually be beneficial:
“I had the opportunity meet several times with the executive director that will be leading the Penn Medicine development in that site and in those discussions we talked about what would be the optimal times. Currently we’re going to have a traffic issue no matter what. We’ve discussed that with the board with the development that is taking place. It is possible that moving our high school time to 8:30 might actually be a better time than our current time at 7:30 looking at the what their flow of traffic with their workers and when they begin having patient visits. They are very welcoming and open to partner with us.’ (Kenneth Batchelor)
In an interview with Ms. Stern, she says that the buildings will not open until 2021, so there is still time to assess the amount of traffic. She also believes that whether or not the new start times are implemented, traffic will be an issue. Additionally, during the meeting Patricia Booker discusses that there are neighbors other than Penn Medicine, such as the hotel and office complex that is planned to be built. Booker believes it would be easier to discuss traffic with the hotel and office complex prior to changing the start time.
Morning Sports Practice?
During the meeting, Booker pointed out that clubs and sports may feel the need to move practices before school. In order to ensure that every student can benefit from an hour sleep, the board has decided that in order for a club, activity, or sport to move their practices before school, they will need approval from Mr. Bechtold. Another point that was discussed during the school board meeting was the length of sports practices. Aside from this the school board is working on looking at the programs (such as the musical) practicing after 9pm. It is anticipated that the orchestra and band will not be affected.
“Our teachers have come to us and told us that practice should not be more than two hours and as a former coach, I wholeheartedly agree. This is a discussion that we want to continue to have. We should have no problem having our practices still meet after school.” (Kenneth Batchelor)
“We are committed to not having sports or activities prior to school.” (Dan Bechtold)
Student Wellness/Homework Policy
Another root issue addressing student well-being that was mentioned was the amount of homework assigned to the students. Two years ago, a homework policy was implemented by the school board. During the meeting Kenneth Batchelor suggests that a committee be put in place to oversee and administer this homework policy and to add improvements.
“This is a longer study and something that we need to diver more deeply into that can begin this summer and go into the fall into the next school year for us to look at this as a district. I think it’s timely for us to do it just based on the fact that this policy has been in existence for two years that it’s time to look at it and say did this really have the impact that we thought it had.” (Kenneth Batchelor)
The homework policy is the foreseen step to make the lives of students easier. Many do believe that the moving the start times still not address the root cause of this issue, and is only treating part of the larger issue at hand.
“This thing that is being put forward this evening is treating a symptom and not the root cause of this problem.” (Speaker Unknown)
Another common issue is the amount of students that will be in each gym class. As of now, the students who must leave early for due to sports will have gym at the end of the day. It is estimated that 10 gym classes will be needed to accomodate all of the students who would leave early. Currently 9 classes of gym are offered during period 3, so it is foreseen that offering 10 classes next year will not be much of an issue. Since juniors and seniors are not required to take health class, another implication of leaving early during eighth period is that they may miss an elective they have taken in place of health.
Should vs. Shouldn’t Wait
Radnor had the option of analyzing how other schools in the area would implement the new start times and could study the drawbacks. However, Radnor did also have the option in implementing the later start times and decided to take that route. The school board has addressed that if the new start times do not seem to work out with the district, there is always an option to reverse them to the way they originally were.
“I believe that there are times, and this being one of them, that we shouldn’t wait. I’ve attended many meetings about this with many different people. I’ve traveled up to Harrisburg and went to meet with different representatives. And i think I can agree that we should flip and this might be something that might happen after we do our evaluation.” (Charles Madden)