Proposal maintains high school start time

Other schools would stagger first bell

April 24, 2012

Upon further review, the Wauwatosa School District is proposing a schedule for next fall that maintains current high school start times while staggering and standardizing start times for elementary and middle schools.

It's all in the name of safety.

The School Board on Tuesday heard the recommendation and is expected to vote on it at the May 8 meeting.

The proposal sets these start and end times:

High schools: 8 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. with a 2:10 dismissal Wednesday

Middle schools: 8:10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a 2:30 dismissal Wednesday

Elementary schools: 8:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., with a 2:20 p.m. dismissal Wednesday

Junior kindergarten programs would begin at the same time as elementary school, with afternoon sessions ending at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Responding to survey results

The proposal is a shift from a previous plan that had high schools starting 20 minutes earlier. Superintendent Phil Ertl said the decision was made after parent input from a districtwide survey.

"After getting all the survey responses, we decided to maintain the high school schedules," Ertl said. "Our basic concern is making sure that we can stagger start times in schools that are very close to each other."

Such as Wauwatosa West, Whitman Middle and Eisenhower Elementary, all adjacent on Center Street.

Ertl noted that traffic has been a concern since a child was hit by a car last year near Eisenhower. Earlier this year, a Longfellow student was hit by a vehicle while crossing 76th Street north of North Avenue.

Extra traffic help?

The latter case is an example of concerns about driving behaviors brought up by board member Sharon Muehlfeld, who noted she has become aware of traffic control personnel working alongside crossing guards in other parts of the country.

"We have a couple of areas like those west of Mayfair Road and 76th Street and Milwaukee Avenue," Muehlfeld said. "I think we should be looking at extra traffic flow help."

Ertl said, "I'm not sure what that would look like," adding that he is waiting for the results of a traffic study from a consultant hired by the district and city. He said he hoped the end result of the study and the resulting measures would alleviate traffic problems, especially around some clusters of schools.

That study, being done for $26,700 by Ayres Associates, is expected to be reviewed at a city Traffic and Safety Committee meeting in late spring, said Public Works Director Bill Porter.


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