One of the traits that make New Paltz such an amazing place is the raw passion, dedication, and commitment of its community members to doing what they feel is the right thing to do. When this passion creates division, our road gets a little bumpy. We can let those bumps damage our car, or we can slow down and drive a little more cautiously.
We urge those participating in the social media debate about school start times to put the brakes on and drive carefully. We would like to remind everyone that the school start time initiative is an exploration of challenges and possibilities. No decision has been made, other than an agreement that the Board of Education needs to engage our community in this important topic.
How will a change impact our students’ opportunities to participate in athletics and clubs? Will a change cause hardships on parents who rely on older students for childcare? Do later start times impact students’ afterschool employment? What factors are most important in determining a possible schedule change? These are just some of the questions the Board will consider when making its decision. Each concern will be discussed, solutions sought, and outcomes weighted.
Your Board of Education is dedicated to actions that are in the best interest of students, and this decision is no different. We know it will not be easy, but we are committed to doing the hard work necessary to see if it is possible.
Our focus groups are intended to bring the community to the table to provide input on the many facets of this complex issue. They are not intended to be a debate, but rather to give a representative sample of our community the opportunity to share the thoughts, ideas, and concerns that exist in our community. The discussions during the focus group sessions will guide the design of a survey to give the broader community a voice on those same thoughts, ideas, and concerns. To ensure the greatest level of transparency and integrity to the process, as well as to be sure that all participants feel comfortable sharing, the Board engaged a consulting firm with experts in this area.
Outcomes of the focus group and survey will be presented to the Board, and then a community forum (scheduled for January 5 at 7 PM at the New Paltz High School) will be held to discuss the results of the research collected. This multi-step process was developed to help ensure that everyone has an opportunity to have their voices heard.
We are fortunate to be the home of people with unique experience and perspectives to offer. They have important things to say. The Board intends to use all of the feedback provided throughout this process to make an informed decision. We encourage you to participate in this process.
Board of Education President