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North Hills Superintendent Proposes Changes in School Start & Dismissal Times

Superintendent Dr. Patrick Mannarino argues that by slightly modifying the hours of the school day at all grade levels, the district could save up to $417,870 in transportation costs.

North Hills Schools superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino Monday released details of a proposal to alter the start and dismissal times of all the schools in the district in order to streamline the district's transportation costs. 

"These small time changes would allow the district to reduce the number of buses required to serve our students, saving up to nearly $417,870 yearly while preserving our quality educational programs," said Mannarino. "Basically, district buses would be utilized to their maximum potential with less down time between runs."

Mannarino said with the current fiscal climate, and few signs of increased funding from Harrisburg, he has save money wherever he can.

"I've been here 11 years and we have some amazing things going on and now, sitting in this chair, I need to do everything I can to protect those programs as much as possible," he said. "We're in the era of tearing down the walls of public education. Unfortunately, that's the reality that we are living in."

Proposed Time Changes

School

Current Start

Current Dismissal

Proposed Start

Proposed Dismissal

Sr. High (grades 9-12)

7:40 a.m.

2:45 p.m.

7:20 a.m.

2 p.m.

Jr. High (grades 7-8)

7:40 a.m.

2:45 p.m.

7:50 a.m.

2:50 p.m.

Highcliff/West View Elementary

9 a.m.

3:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m.

3:00 p.m.

Ross/McIntyre Elementary

9 a.m.

3:30 p.m.

9:15 a.m.

3:45 p.m.

Benefits

In addition to reducing the district's transportation costs, Mannarino said the proposed changes will increase safety at the junior and senior high schools.

"There would be no gridlock on the hilltop in the morning or afternoon because we've split the bus traffic in half," said Mannarino. "The middle school students (7th and 8th grade) will be arriving while the high school students are already in class. Add to that, the high school students who park in the lot adjacent to the junior high won't have to dodge the middle school students' buses while walking to the high school. That solves a major safety issue that we've known about for a long time." 

Academically, the proposed schedule time would also allow administrators to create an activities period for 7th and 8th grade students.

"It also allows for a true team-teaching model proven to raise academic excelence during this transitional time for teenagers," Mannarino said.

What's Next

Parents will get their say in the months leading up to a decision about this plan.

"We've established a task force of our PTA leadership that represents a cross section of North Hills school district parents," said Mannarino. "We're going to meet weekly through February so that if anything pops up we didn't think of, this group is going to try to iron through some of those problems." (See attached .pdf for the meeting schedule.)

In addition, the plan will be the subject of school board meetings in January and early February. Mannarino said a final decision would need to be made by Feb. 18 in order to give administrators time to implement it for the 2013-2014 school year.

What do you think of the proposed changes? Tell us in the comments box below.

See the attached .pdf for answers to frequently asked questions about the proposal.

Check out some of today's other top stories here .

Rhonda Campanella December 04, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Not a done deal. Not sure where I stand on the issue yet but I do know I will: avoid expressing a knee jerk, emotional reaction. I will talk about it, think through and write down a list of the pros and cons. Talk some more and try to stay open to the bigger educational picture. Then I will decide and voice my opinion accordingly.
lisa stipetich December 04, 2012 at 05:07 PM
i don't think it will cause a huge conflict. If anything, it may give the younger children in elementary a few extra minutes to sleep in. If it will save the district money and enable the schools to assist with education and other important programs then i'm all for it.
Richard Cook December 04, 2012 at 05:27 PM
From our Facebook Page: Monica Graham Anderson For all the panicked buzz I heard before this proposal went public, I am shocked by the lack of commentary from people now. While this plan is not perfect, I appreciate Dr. Mannarino's desire to be proactive and think outside the box in an effort to avoid cutting the quality of our kids education and programming.
Richard Cook December 04, 2012 at 05:28 PM
More from our Facebook page: Melissa Doerfler Neidhardt I would have to send my boys, (K and 1st grade) to bed at 7 to get them up at 6 to get to the bus stop on time. Not sure I'm liking the possibility of the change.
KMul December 04, 2012 at 06:48 PM
My concern would be for the students in the morning program and/or the afternoon program. Both programs are so-so at best. For working parents who still have to be at work by 8, their children would still be dropped off at 7:15 or so. At McIntyre or Ross, that would be two complete hours before school began. On the flip side, for parents picking up after 5 PM, that would be two or more hours at Highcliff and West View. There aren't enough of activities or supervision for an additional 30 minutes spent there.
North Hills Hooligan December 04, 2012 at 07:02 PM
A half million in savings and less traffic headaches for people who live in the Gardens.... WIN!
VidMal December 04, 2012 at 11:32 PM
I think it is a brilliant innovative way of thinking and it just shows the quality of person we now have in the Superintendent position in North Hills. Sure parents will have to work around different schedules, but maybe it's time to make Mr. Food be a little more flexible with the morning program hours.
Kevin December 05, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Mr Food ..... Now theres a joke
Joan O'Brien December 05, 2012 at 02:53 AM
I appreciate that Superintendent Mannarino is attempting to solve this fiscal problem in a creative way. However, I understand that studies have shown that Senior High School students woud be much better prepared for a day of classes if they could start later in the day, not earlier. I hope that the school board finds and references these studies, & that they use them in their decision making. I must add that if I still had children in high school I would be totally opposed to such an early start time. I would like to hear other alternatives to the decline in government funding.
Cheryl B. December 05, 2012 at 03:09 PM
It may give the Ross & McIntyre elementary children a few extra minutes to sleep, but the children attending Highcliff and West View will be forced to get up up even earlier that they are now.
Lisa Herbert-Dunbar December 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
What this article doesn't tell you is that they are also going to eliminate homeroom, shorten lunch to 30 minutes, and reduce time between classes to 4 minutes. My kids used to get tutoring help from teachers during lunch and homeroom, and they also utlized that time to find out what work they missed from absences. I don't think this part of the plan makes much sense. I have also heard of the studies mentioned above that show high school students do better when the start LATER, rather than earlier.
Keith January 05, 2013 at 04:02 PM
It may not be important to a lot of people but what about the kids that go to McIntyre and Ross that are involved in sports. Many of them have practices starting at 5pm which is already difficult to get to with the existing schedule now they will be even more pressed for time. The school district may not be concern with our children's extra curricular activities but, it is an important factor in the lives of our children.
Keith January 05, 2013 at 04:10 PM
The start time already is early enough for our high school students who most of them have jobs or are involved in sports or clubs that sometimes don't let them even start homework until 9 or 10pm. There have been several mornings that I had to take my child in late just so he could get an hour extra sleep because he was up until 1am doing homework and on average he is doing homework until 11pm. I understand that the school district is only concerned about academics but, it is important for our kids to be well rounded.
Jeff February 19, 2013 at 12:28 AM
I don't live in the district but I'm reading great comments from community members on a complicated subject. Tough times in education throughout the state, great to see people working on the problem instead of bashing every district decision.

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