After four parent forums, a change in the school-day schedule will move forward.

After four parent forums, a change in the school-day schedule will move forward.

For the second straight year, the New Albany-Plain Local School District will change the times for the school day, but the elementary students will see the only major changes.

With the final parent forum held Monday night, Superintendent Steve Castle told school board members during their Monday meeting that he'll review their comments.

The time change does not require board approval. Castle said he had planned to announce his decision this week.

"The goal has always been to try to finalize (the time change) by the end of April," he said. "We plan to have it finalized yet this week."

Castle said the time change needs to be acted upon soon so parents have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments.

The second change in schedule came about after parents complained about the 2007-08 schedule.

The proposed change includes a consistent starting time for elementary students, thus eliminating one bone of contention.

If the new schedule is approved, the K-1 school day would begin at 8:55 a.m. and end between 3:20 to 3:30 p.m. At the 2-5 elementary school, the day would start at 9:05 a.m. and end between 3:30 and 3:40 p.m.

The middle and high schools would begin at 7:30 a.m. every day but Wednesday and end at 2:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, students in grades 6-12 would start at 8:40 a.m.

The new schedule also is expected to solve problems seen this year with the teachers' workday. This year, the workday began as students were arriving at 8:10 a.m. Wednesdays. The new schedule also would allow teachers collaboration time.

Castle said the district administration worked with the teachers' union on this change.

"Consensus was reached. This plan was shared, not developed, in conjunction with teachers," he said. "Before we took it to parents, we wanted to make sure we had consensus of administration and staff."

About 15 parents were present at each of the parent forums, Castle said.

"We had very good conversation and dialogue," he said.

Castle said the most common comment was a need for an earlier starting time for families with two working parents.

"We'll go back and look at early morning programs," he said. "Starting earlier will mean additional costs."

The district started breakfast, IMPACT and YMCA programs to help working parents handle a 9 a.m. school-day start, and Castle said these programs could be tweaked for next year.

School board member Mike Klein said the school day will be examined again next year to see how the new changes work.

"A year from now, we will revisit (the school day)," Castle said. "I hope we won't be back here next year, making any radical changes."

jnoblit@thisweeknews.com

Steve Castle