New school start times were approved by the Swanton Board of Education at their Wednesday meeting. Days are now slated to begin 20 minutes later in the 2020-21 school year.
Under the new hours, Swanton Middle School will start the day at 7:55 a.m. and end at 2:40 p.m. The high school will start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. Elementary school will begin at 9:05 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. for walkers, with all students gone by 3:50 p.m.
Superintendent Chris Lake laid out several reasons when he first proposed the change to the board. Health, safety, and academic performance were cited. He said later start times correlate with improved mental and physical health, academic achievement is increased, and there is a reduction in behavioral issues.
District officials looked at several options for later start times, but settled on the plan to start 20 minutes later after hearing opinions from community members.
“I would just like to say that the board recognizes that the school start time has been an issue that has touched the nerves of many,” said Board of Education President Steve Brehmer. “And, we want to say that we have taken into consideration everybody’s thoughts on the issue. We appreciate the input we’ve received. We value everybody’s opinions. Unfortunately, when you make a decision like this, you’re not always gonna make everybody happy. But, the bottom line is, we’re charged with doing what’s best for students.
“Again, I’ve been amazed with the input we’ve received. It’s refreshing to see people active and involved, And it makes us accountable, and we appreciate it.”
Also at the meeting, the board approved a resolution opposing the state’s EdChoice program. Lake said changes made by the state legislature last year would prove detrimental to Swanton Local Schools and other district around the state when they go into effect in February. He said in the past schools had to be labeled as under-performing in several measures, and now it is just one.
“Students who currently attend private schools, who have never attended Swanton Local Schools, they’ve never been counted in our student counts, (and) under the way the law is written, would have the ability to take money from our district to pay for these vouchers,” Lake said.
Swanton elementary and high school students would be eligible. Other area schools on the EdChoice list include Whitehouse Elementary School, Waterville Elementary School, Delta High School, Wauseon Elementary School, Springfield High School, and three Sylvania elementary schools.
Lake said the district could potentially lose $240,000 next school year.
• The Board approved 94 students for graduation in the Class of 2020.
• Donations to the district were approved, including $1,500 from the Swanton Lions Club to the eSports club; $985.08 from Kroger to the general fund; $575 from Swanton Area Community Coalition to the athletic fund; and $500 from Swanton Parents Club to Swanton 7 programming.
• Membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association for the 2020-21 school year was approved.
• The board approved the annual tax rate resolution, and Treasurer Joyce Kinsman showed the board the difference between the millage amounts when issues originally passed and what they are collected at now.
As an example, the bond issue passed in 2000 to build the new high school was originally 7.4-mills. It is now collected at 3.9-mills due to property value increases in the district. That bond issue is nearing its end and will be collected through the 2024 tax year.
• Several personnel items were approved, including the classified contract for Carrie Kruse bus driver and classified supplemental contract for Zachary Leahy as freshman wrestling coach. Recreation contracts approved included Brooke Eitniear as T-ball and coach pitch director, and Kendra Gustafson as spring soccer director for U4-U14 and travel soccer.