Survey suggests UCF students get more sleep after schedule change

By JP Phillips, Staff Writer, The Times

Unionville High School is preparing to greet students on the first day of school–Aug. 27.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — Unionville-Chadds Ford School District’s “Start Time Initiative,” implemented last year, may be reaping rewards.

At Monday night’s School Board Work Session, Assistant Superintendent John Nolen compared two years of student “Cleveland Adolescent Sleepiness Questionnaire” results.  They indicate that UCF students are generally sleeping 15-30 minutes more, feel somewhat more engaged, alert, and less sleepy in class. 

According to Nolen, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends school-aged children get 8-10 hours of sleep nightly.  The surveys suggest that Patton middle schoolers are now generally meeting that requirement.  Nolen stressed that there is only one year of data, which is too little to assume conclusive results.

“All in all,” Nolen said, “We feel like, for the modest change that we made, the students are reporting that it has had a positive effect on them as a group.”

There are still issues that need to be addressed, mainly concerning transportation.  For example, challenges exist at the elementary schools when buses arrive before students can be admitted into their classrooms.  Additionally, Board member Gregg Lindner (who represents residents in Chadds-Ford and Pennsbury townships) noted that due to long bus rides with many stops, students living near the District’s boundaries cannot sleep in; Pick up times are very similar to what they were prior to the later start time.

The Board started the meeting by approving Marco Sordi as the new Director of Transportation effective October 1, 2018.  Since Sordi’s entire focus will be transportation (Marie Wickersham, the previous director, split her time between transportation and food services), he will be able to tackle these important issues. Changes could be made during the school year.

Though problems exist, in general students do start their day later.  According to Board President Jeff Hellrung, the average bus trip is 4 minutes shorter versus the previous year.  Superintendent John Sanville added that on average, students are picked up 29 minutes later each morning.

In other news, Supervisor of Buildings and Ground James Whitesel along with Sanville and Hellrung provided some history and a timeline for the facilities plan presented by K&W Consultants during the June 11th work session.

According to Sanville, the original May 2017 facilities plan focused more on buildings versus the best use of grounds.  That is why Administration recommended–and the Board approved–a study that examined the best use of the high school, middle school, and Unionville elementary campuses.

During next month’s work session, K&W will provide cost estimates for each option in that plan.  Hellrung stressed that “none, some, or all” of those options would be considered by Administration. Administration would make a recommendation to the Board.  Based on the Board’s vote, a final grounds plan would be included in an updated ten-year long-term plan.

The Board approved the new Athletic handbook after Administration assured Lindner that the “weekly academic eligibility” requirement allowed time for students/parents to question grades that were the result of possible error.  PIAA requirements stipulate that a student who is failing two classes cannot play sports the following week.

Nolen thanked the Board for changes made last year to the District’s substitute teacher program.  The 2017-18 “fill rate” for substitutes increased to 95.5% from 91.3% the previous year.

Next Up:  Board meeting on August 20th at 7:30 in room 14 at the District Office, adjacent to the High School.

All board meetings are open to the public.  They are broadcasted live (and archived) on the UCFSD web site.

Board documents:

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