PLAQUEMINE — A proposal by Iberville Parish School Superintendent Ed Cancienne to reverse start times of the district’s elementary and high school students in the upcoming school year got a lukewarm reception from several School Board members Monday night.
Cancienne told the board he wants to bump up the start time for high school students by an hour, to approximately 7:30 a.m., and push back the “take-in” hour for the district’s elementary students by an hour.
He said he was suggesting the change because of concerns expressed by high school coaches that their athletes were having to miss most of their afternoon classes due to games and related extracurricular activities.
“It was clearly indicated by (the girl’s softball coach) that if we were able to start school earlier she could get her practice games in and students would be arriving home earlier at the end of the day,” Cancienne said during Monday’s meeting.
Board member Darlene Ourso voiced opposition to Cancienne’s proposal and asked the superintendent if he had gotten any feedback from teachers or parents about the proposed change.
Cancienne said that, so far, he has only shared the information with the board and the principals of the schools that would be affected.
Ourso said she has heard concerns from parents regarding how early children would be forced to board buses under the proposed changes.
Board member Nancy Broussard said she could see both sides of the argument but joined Ourso in opposition to making the change in school starting times a parishwide mandate.
“One of the advantages of having the high school kids coming in later is because there’s some research that suggest it works better, academically, for high school students,” she said. “It coincides with the natural sleep cycles of teenagers and enables them to learn better if they come in later.”
Cancienne said any changes would have to be parishwide because spot changes would throw off interconnected bus routes.
“Honestly, I think it’s great we’re doing this,” board member Brian Willis said. “It might not work, but let’s try it.”
Cancienne said there were still a few tweaks he wants to make to the proposal before he presents a final version to the board.