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‘A’ for effort: CEOs mostly support new school start times, dates

CEOs were asked: Miami-Dade is pushing back its start date for next year’s school year. Do you support this decision? When do you think is the appropriate time for school to start, both on the calendar and for time of day?

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The later start date results in a later end date for the school year. This may make it more difficult to coordinate with summer camps. The proposed later start times are more problematic. A 9 a.m. high school start will conflict with rush hour traffic. The later start time will also result in classes ending later, thereby making it difficult to schedule outdoor sports in the winter when the sun sets earlier. There will be a tendency to let kids out of school before classes are finished so that games do not end too late. Practices will also be affected.

Andy Ansin, vice president, Sunbeam Properties

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I applaud Miami-Dade’s decision to start school on Aug. 24. This allows children to settle in from summer camp and families to return from vacation. As for school start time — no later than 8 a.m. for kids, parents and caregivers. They all need their rest!

Michael Balaban, president, CEO, Jewish Federation of Broward County

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I believe our school administrators are working hard to make the best decisions for our children and their education. These decisions are never easy. As an operations executive at Lime I understand first hand the challenging logistics involved to implement something like this, and the many factors the school district likely weighed. From ensuring ample school bus drivers to administrators being in place at schools throughout the district, this is no easy feat. I also always think about our team at Lime, many of whom are parents like myself and have their own logistics to manage as professionals. I am optimistic we will all adjust and make the most of the changes underway. Most importantly, I truly look forward to the changes being something the students can benefit from.

Uhriel Bedoya, Florida general manager, Lime

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I support starting school at a later time. This provides working mothers more time in the afternoon as the hours shift. In addition, many children are sleep deprived, which has a detrimental effect on academic performance.

Claudia Busch, founding principal, Berenblum Busch Architects

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As I understand it, it will start one week later and end one week later, no real change or impact to classroom time and/or curriculum load expected. I support the change only if there is no reduction in classroom time or curriculum load as a result of it. I’m not sure how to best answer the appropriate time question other than restating that the pivotal factor in the decision should be impact on quality and quantity of classroom time and course load.

Carlos R. Fernandez-Guzman, president, CEO, Pacific National Bank (PNB)

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I don’t have much of an opinion on when school starts, per se. However, it would be nice if they made the calendars available well ahead of time and if they coordinated these calendars among all schools in the system, both public and private. I think that waiting to release these calendars creates unnecessary uncertainty for a lot of local families, which could be easily avoided.

Arnaud Karsenti, managing principal, 13th Floor Investments

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I have no issues with the later start date of Aug. 24 that the school board recently approved. A poll of teachers indicated the majority favored this date. The start time debate is one that has its pros and cons. Starting school no earlier than 8 a.m. can perhaps give students more time to sleep, as the superintendent has stated, but it also puts more buses and vehicles deeper into the morning and afternoon rush. This is concerning. It can also potentially complicate the scheduling of after-school activities and child care. This issue has not yet been decided, but the school system committed last fall to closely studying the matter for possible implementation next 2020-21 school year. I do believe teacher planning days should be better aligned with the calendar. For instance, the day after Halloween should be a teacher planning day, as there was one a couple of days after. Like this, there are many examples. At Miami Dade College, where I have the pleasure and honor of presiding as chairman of the board of trustees, special efforts are always made to offer classes from 7 a.m. until late at night, on weekdays and weekends, and online, so our students can better juggle academic, work and family obligations.

Bernie Navarro, founder and president, Benworth Capital Partners

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I see the issue as more of a disconnect with our neighboring county, than whether it’s one week early or late. Given the interconnected lives between Broward and Miami-Dade counties, it’s essential that officials of both counties cooperate and work together for their residents.

Sanket Parekh, founder and managing partner, Secocha Ventures

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I support schools not starting prior to 8 a.m., as I believe a little extra sleep for students is a good thing and it would also reduce the time that buses and cars are driving in the dark, which creates a safer environment. I am also okay starting a week later to allow more summer vacation for teachers and students.

Julio Ramirez, president, CEO, JEM Global Consulting

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I fully support Superintendent Carvalho’s science-based decision to move back start times to later in the day. Studies show students don’t get enough sleep and early morning starts contribute to that problem. Starting between 8 and 9 a.m. makes sense. When I went to Miami High many years ago, there were two shifts, and morning classes started way early. I also support the six day later start to the school year; August is vacation time!

Stuart Singer, administrative partner, Fort Lauderdale office, Boies Schiller & Flexner

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Setting the school calendar is more complicated than one would think because different groups have different priorities. To me, the start date is not as important as the time school starts. I always prefer for school to start early enough so parents can drop off their children and still get to work on time. On the matter of Spring break, I’ve heard from many parents that they wish there was more coordination between public, private and even universities so everyone could be off at the same time. Our programs follow the Miami-Dade Public School calendar, so we were happy to see the release of next year’s calendar in time for our contract renewals.

Evelio C. Torres, president, CEO, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe

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