CCISD School Start Time Committee exemplifies lip service

Remember the ill-fated CCISD School Start Time Committee (SSTAC)? The district probably thought we forgot, but no, we didn’t. After five meetings and digging through a lot of research, the SSTAC presented just two options to the general public:

  1. Leave everything as-is. Hooray, status quo!
  2. Move everything back later by 20 minutes, thereby putting high schoolers into commuter traffic, having middle schoolers return from school after dark, and inconveniencing working parents of elementary schoolers. In other words, a no-win situation.

That’s what they came up with to give the public? After five meetings?

(Note: We’re glad they left everything alone, because everything CCISD changes turns to manure. But for those that have been following the science, what CCISD did was a slap in the face, particularly to the hard working SSTAC committee members who genuinely wanted to find a solution, and who are still trying to re-open the dialogue with CCISD for a better outcome.)

It’s not like they didn’t have the research to back up moving school start times, particularly for the high schoolers. CCISD’s own research cited the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s recommendation for middle and high schoolers to have a school start time of 8:30 am or later. The report that the SSTAC relied on was packed with actual evidence (contrary to what Trustee Win Weber said during the November 18, 2019 Board of Trustees meeting).

This was something the community wanted, and a lot of people volunteered to be on the SSTAC, although only a few were chosen. Parents wanted a serious discussion. How many times did Pam McCraw and David Brady and others appear in front of the school board asking for a change in start times?

Yet what the public got to vote on was a weak token effort, right? A lousy 20 extra minutes of sleep for our kids?

What you see above are the four models that the SSTAC came up with. Take a look at Model 4: it’s not ideal, because middle schoolers will be getting home after 5 p.m. But it meets the charges of the SSTAC and is supported by evidence. So why wasn’t this presented to the public?

We think this just might have to do with the administrator in charge of the SSTAC, Dr. Steven Ebell. According to a source who attended committee meetings:

I observed the process of the committee coming to the two recommendations. The committee was led by CCISD administrators who emphasized how difficult an 8:30 school start time would be, and dismissed all discussions around potential work-arounds. While there was substantial support for also recommending an 8:30 start time, the CCISD administrator/facilitator declined to bring this recommendation forward. A very biased process to get to the status quo.

This source confirmed that it was Dr. Ebell who squashed all discussion.

Six concerned community members took their case, one last time, to the Board of Trustees on November 18, 2019. But Dr. Greg Smith‘s very weak plan was presented, leaving school start times as they were (because the public was given a losing proposition to vote on). Apparently, just changing one thing wasn’t worthwhile.

So which Board of Trustee members voted to keep the status quo and not hold anyone accountable? Jay Cunningham moved to accept the milquetoast recommendations, and Win Weber (the criminal lawyer) seconded the motion. Page Rander and Dr. Laura DuPont voted in favor.

In a rare dissent, Arturo Sanchez and Jennifer Broddle voted against the recommendations. What’s important to note, though, is that Mr. Sanchez stated that none of his colleagues were disputing the science, when Ms. Weber very clearly said that the science wasn’t there. Ms. Broddle indicated that she had been threatened. She is weak.

Scott Bowen was the lone dissent that made sense, that expected someone to refute the science. No one refuted the science.

So, we ask, did CCISD act in the best interest of CCISD, or in the best interest of the students?

We think you can answer that question yourselves.

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