School scheduling proposal is disturbing

To the editor:

As parents of two students in District 191, we find the proposed alternative schedules in the School Board’s proposed budget for 2012-13 and onward disturbing.

The alternative schedules remove 17 days from the school calendar. These days are replaced with extra minutes added to each of the 155 school days that remain.

One proposal calls for basically every other Monday off. The other has the school year ending before Memorial Day.

The driving force behind these alternative schedules is solely budget cuts. The district, however, lists various positives to support the proposals beyond solely reducing the budget, for example: it provides extra days to go to a museum, have family time, to participate in community education programs, or for teenagers to work.

To be sure, these are all good things, but it would seem that it is what evenings and weekends are for. It is far more likely that the younger children will be home (perhaps unsupervised) on these weekdays off, watching television or playing video games. With current unemployment rates such as they are, it also seems unlikely that many of the teenagers will be filling more time off with extra employment.

We send our children to school to get a good education. Unless the School Board has comprehensive studies that show children still thrive with an alternative schedule, why would we be willing to let our children be the test case?

We should have scholarly evidence that it won’t negatively affect students’ academic performance, before such a change is ever implemented. Are there studies that address how it could affect other items such as athletics?

We just passed our last levy referendum. Why are we the only large district in the area considering such a schedule change? We, as parents and longtime residents of Burnsville, are concerned how this change will affect students, our district, and our community. The district has said it will respect input and is asking people to provide it. Let the School Board know how you feel at one of its listening sessions as posted on the district website.