Warsaw School Board Approves Measure To Move School Start Times Later

Warsaw School Board recognized Kosciusko County Community Foundation CEO Suzie Light (front row, C) for her service to the community with a gift basket and a Tiger night light. Pictured with Light are (L to R) board President Heather Reichenbach, board member Mike Coon, board member Elle Turley, board Vice President Randy Polston, board Secretary Jeremy Mullins, board Treasurer Jay Baumgartner, Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert and board member Brad Johnson. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.

Warsaw School Board approved to move the start times of its schools later during its meeting Monday.

The start times were moved forward 15 minutes for Warsaw Community High School, Lakeview and Edgewood Middle Schools. The start time this year at WCHS is 7:40 a.m., and it will be 7:55 a.m. during the 2020-21 school year. Edgewood’s start time will move from 7:35 a.m. to 7:50 a.m., while Lakeview’s start time will move from 7:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

Elementary schools will be moved forward 10 minutes. Claypool, Leesburg and Madison elementary schools will go from 9:10 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Eisenhower, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington and Harrison elementary schools will move from 9 a.m. to 9:10 a.m.

WCS Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert made a presentation to the board of what went into the process to move the school start times.

He said it was a two-year process that included a six-step process. Those steps included looking at medical/sleep research; having an input survey of staff, students and community members; having focus groups; and having a logistic audit of the school system’s busing system. The school system also had an interview with start-time expert Dr. Joseph Buckhalt from Auburn University.

Hoffert said the request to move the start times back was a way of trying to put all six steps together and honor all aspects of it.

“We recognize the medical research and this would put us more in line with the state average. We believe it’s a compromise between perspectives. We believe it provides some more safety,” Hoffert said. He said he believes there are some things that still need to be looked at over the next year.

In another matter, Chief Academic Officer Dr. David Robertson spoke about safety measures the school district has put in place on Husky Trail near Harrison Elementary School.

New school zone signs were put on the road. This was a project the school district completed with the city of Warsaw, Robertson said. These lights are customizable and well-illuminated.

“We’re in the process of beta testing them, so they’ve been in kind of silent mode the past couple of days so we can make sure they’re actually working,” Robertson said.

The district is expecting a March 1 rollout.

Board member Mike Coon asked if adding the signs at other schools should be looked at. Robertson said the school district might look at putting the signs up at Lakeview Middle School and Lincoln Elementary.

The school board also approved to move forward in renovating 33 classrooms at WCHS and update the gray paneling outside the Career Center. The cost will be $2 million for renovating the classrooms and $1.6 million on the paneling, said Chief Financial Officer April Fitterling. The project will be completed over the summer.

DARE and student resource officer Rogelio Navarro III spoke to the board about vaping in the school district.

“It’s still coming, it’s still out there, it’s still in the community,” Navarro said. He showed the school board a collection of e-cigarettes he’s taken from students. He also explained what types of e-cigarettes are available.

He said the legal age to use e-cigarettes is 21, and WCS is a smoke free environment so students shouldn’t have e-cigarettes on campus.

Robertson said there’s a discipline aspect and a legal aspect to vaping.

There have been times where Navarro has caught students with e-cigarettes and has given them tickets.

“This is a citation, this is a warning,” he said. He said he didn’t have the number of tickets he’s given out this year. He takes the tickets down to probation and the student has a choice of paying a fine of about $150 or going to teen court.

A citation, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll hit a student’s record right off the bat, he said. However, if the student gets caught again, it’s a different story.

“We try to give (students) the benefit of a doubt,” he said.

Robertson said WCS is developing online courses as part of the disciplinary process when students are students are caught with e-cigarettes. This is help inform students about e-cigarettes.

He has DARE students tell him vaping is a safe alternative to smoking. He tells them it’s safer, but it’s not safe.