Presently, the Bellingham School District is surveying families about school start times. One argument used in the presentation from the district is the cost impact of the time changes. Beyond schedule changes, I’d like to argue that for the majority of educational needs in the district be met, without substantial budget cuts or revenue enhancements, one must eliminate interscholastic sports until the state legislature and the district fully fund co-curricular programs. The cost of these extracurricular programs just in high schools is several million dollars.
I believe interscholastic sports should not remove resources from all students to meet the wants of the relatively few who participate in them. The needs of those who desire to participate in sports can be met with intramural activities that traditionally include more students at a substantially lower cost to the district.
Among other things, the savings should be used towards extending the elementary school day to meet the state-mandated requirement of 100 minutes of physical education. Presently, a maximum of 80 minutes per week is provided for third- to fifth-grade students and only 40 minutes per week for kindergarten to second-grade students. Until the state and district provide all required educational opportunities for students, extra-curricular activities must not be allowed to reduce the education of all students for the benefit of the relatively few who participate in them.
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