Earlier class times next year at Woodland High School

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Woodland Regional High School students walk into school Tuesday in Beacon Falls before classes start at 7:35 a.m. Next year, classes will begin at 7:20 a.m. Jessica D’Aniello Citizen’s News

By Jessica D’Aniello Citizen’s News

BEACON FALLS — Woodland Regional High School students will start classes earlier and be dismissed earlier beginning next fall.

The Region 16 Board of Education on Dec. 15 approved moving the start time to 7:20 a.m. and ending classes at 1:50 p.m. — a 15-minute change from the current 7:35 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. schedule.

The move was made because buses leaving the high school have been arriving late to pick up children for the middle and elementary schools. Region 16 serves students in Prospect and Beacon Falls.

Superintendent Michael Yamin said the late pickups have been an ongoing problem.

“We have been looking at this since I came to the region seven years ago,” Yamin said.

The district considered hiring another bus to solve the late arrivals, but the idea was dismissed because the school board was not willing to spend $50,000 for the new bus, Yamin said.

Woodland teachers generally supported the idea of the earlier start time because they said it will free up time during the school day.

“With the earlier time schedule, there might be less traffic at the four-way on Pines Bridge Road at 7:15 a.m. Plus with the earlier release time, it will give some sports more time to make a 2:15 p.m. bus instead of the 10 minutes they have now,” said James Amato, teacher and volleyball coach at Woodland.

James Belinsky, a Woodland teacher and father of young children, also supports the idea of getting out of school earlier.

“I love it,” Belinsky said. “I’m happy about it because it’s easier for me to get my kids off the bus.”

Though teachers support the idea, some students said it might be harder to get to school on time because of the earlier start.

“At this point and time, school is starting at 7:35, and kids are still getting to school late and not waking up on time,” said Samantha Sharkey, a junior. “Half of the students need to take at least 20 minutes to get to the school. It’s not fair.”

Principal Kurt Ogren said he believes the change will be a good thing, even though it may affect students who are driving to school more than those who take the bus.

“Buses will still come at the same time in the morning, and rather than having the extra time to be around here in the morning, class will start right at 7:20,” Ogren said.