The Dublin City Schools District is working on options to help parents through the 30-minute time change coming in the fall.

The Dublin City Schools District is working on options to help parents through the 30-minute time change coming in the fall.

Superintendent David Axner announced last week that all schools would begin about 30 minutes later when the district begins the 2011-12 school year.

"The reaction has been very positive, but we've also got a number of concerns in regards to the alternate elementary start for a variety of reasons, mostly working parents who need to get the students on the bus and need to have some option besides paying more money for Latchkey or having a sitter come by." Axner said. "That's the most popular concern."

Nothing solid is in place yet, but Axner said elementary school principals are working toward before-school activities that include expanding the district's breakfast program, gym programs, enrichment, computer labs, keyboarding and chess clubs.

The district's Latchkey program also operates before school.

"Latchkey will be an option for people, but there's an additional 23 minutes, which computes to a higher cost for parents if they choose to do that," Axner said. "People on the front end of the day will pay more and people at the end of the day will pay less. What we're trying to do for a win/win is put together enrichment programs that students could start the day off with. We're looking at physical activities to academic enrichment."

The new times mean Dublin's three high schools still would kick off the school day, but at 8 a.m. rather than 7:25. The middle schools will run from 8:43 a.m. to 3:23 p.m., as opposed to the current 8:15 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. day, and elementary schools will be pushed back from a 9:05 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. day to 9:28 a.m. to 3:58 p.m.

The change in times for the school day resulted from more than a year of research by the School Reform Task Force; the group recommended pushing the school day for high school students back by 45 minutes in November.

The task force uncovered studies and best practices of other school districts that said a later start time for high school students could give them more sleep, which could result in better grades, behavior and safer drivers.

The district initially looked at adjusting only the high school start/stop time, but Axner said busing was a problem.

"One of the biggest barriers we went through was having buses do two routes instead of three," he said. "If we had been able to do that, people would have been happier and we could have condensed the schedule."

The district could not manage without more buses, though. Axner said the change would not cost the district more money, and the strings program and middle school students who attend high school courses would not be affected.

The announcement of the time change has yielded comments from parents, including an online petition to stop the new elementary and middle school times. As of press time on Feb. 22, the petition had nine signatures, including some from overseas.

Some concerns also have come in over the late dismissal interrupting after-school activities, but Axner said, "There's not much we can do with the later dismissal. But for the arrival time we are putting together some information. We're releasing a list of possibilities we're working on. It's premature, but it'll get people seeing options."

The change will be analyzed after it is put into effect.

"We'll be comparing quarter by quarter, looking at discipline changes, tardy either way, attendance levels, obviously academics. It's hard to do that in one year, but hopefully over time we'll see that the changes are good," Axner said, noting that if "we need to tweak or change something, we'll do it."