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Schedule Changes Discussed For Furnace Woods Elementary School

The district is considering moving back the start time of Furnace Woods Elementary School to 9 a.m.
The district is considering moving back the start time of Furnace Woods Elementary School to 9 a.m. Photo Credit: File Photo

CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- Furnace Woods Elementary School could be starting a bit later next school year.

The Hendrick Hudson School District has been working with Fiber Fundamentals to conduct an audit of its transportation department for the last 14 months. Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter said the goal is to provide efficient, cost-effective and safe transportation services for the district.

In the first phase of the audit, Fiber found up to $75,000 in savings for the district in the next three years.

One of the ideas to save money was to have Furnace Woods Elementary School start at 9 a.m., in line with the other elementary schools in the district. Furnace Woods currently starts at 8:20 a.m.

"We could have greater capacity on fewer buses," Hochreiter said. "We could save additional dollars."

Discussion on the possible change have been ongoing at PTA and board of education meetings.

"We want the input and perspective of parents," Hochreiter said. "Our goal is to give families as much time as possible to prepare and make whatever adjustments they need to make."

Hochreiter said while pushing back school by 40 minutes may not sound like a lot, it could be a big deal to parents and students. Starting high school later has also been discussed.

"These are valid concerns and the board will deliberate and discuss," Hochreiter said.

Megan Clarke is one of a number of parents who are concerned about the new start time. 

"Their academic outcome could be put in jeopardy," Clarke said. "Why not start everyone at 8?"

Studies have shown it is better to start elementary schools earlier and high schools later in the morning, Clarke said.

Clarke said she would like the district to do more studies on the issue and be more transparent, having expressed concern that all stakeholders have not been talked to about the change.

"We need to make sure this is the best thing educationally," Clarke said. "I hope the district understands the personal and academic ramifications of this."

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