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|Sleep survey raises ire|
|Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:10|
The Duxbury Public School District has promised to be more open and
inclusive regarding the new start times, but some parents are upset
with the way a student survey was handled.
A survey, conducted online and in school at the end of the school year, was meant to establish a baseline of information before the change takes effect this fall, according to Assistant Superintendent Edwin Walsh.
â€œThe start time committee and the School Committee have said from day one that they wanted information,â€ he said.
The district plans to use the baseline information to judge how the new start times in the fall affect student performance and behavior.
Several parents, however, were concerned this data would be shared with outside sleep researchers â€“â€“ something they say they werenâ€™t informed of â€“â€“ and spoke out at the July 8 School Committee meeting.
Debbie Leppanen said that in addition to the online survey, a student survey was conducted in class on the week of June 8, asking children questions such as how many caffeinated drinks they consumed and whether they had a TV or cell phone in their room, etc.
â€œMy major concern is how the data from the surveys is going to be used beyond the district purposes,â€ she said. â€œWeâ€™ve been informed after the fact, after we took the parent online survey, that the data is going to sleep researchers.â€
Leppanen said the schools didnâ€™t have informed consent from the parents because there was no indication that the information would be shared with researchers outside the district, saying parents were only told the data would be used by a local sleep time study committee looking at the impact of the time change.
Jennifer Thorn, a member of the new sleep study committee, also spoke at the meeting and said she felt parents â€“â€“ and the committee itself â€“â€“ were not aware that the survey data would be used anywhere but in house.
â€œNow we found out that national sleep researchers are going to be using this data,â€ she said. â€œIf you wanted to do a national study you should have told people this before hand.â€
School Committee Chairman George Cipolletti called the data â€œa bit innocuousâ€ but said that he was willing to heed the parentsâ€™ concerns.
â€œI think that we probably will ask the people who are going to be doing the data analysis to not use it in the broader study,â€ he said.
He also said the data had not been given to any independent researchers. â€œThere was no communication outside the district,â€ he said.
Some School Committee members raised questions about how the district is working with independent sleep researchers. Walsh said that the superintendentâ€™s office is working on getting something in writing about how the researchers would work with the schools, and if any data would be shared.
Leppanen said she thinks the district should scrap the survey results and send out the questions again in the fall.
â€œWe need full disclosure and informed consent before anything can be sent out of district,â€ she said.
Also at the meeting, the School Committee ratified the contract with the Duxbury teacherâ€™s union. The contract was a two-year agreement with a 1 percent raise, said Cipolletti.
â€œThis year was a big unknown just because the budget was so tight. We were pleased we were able to ratify a contract for the teachers,â€ he said.
Walsh also said that a budget gap in the school lunch program, first discussed at a prior meeting, would be closed by reducing the hours of some of the cafeteria workers. He said each cafeteria worker had their work day reduced by a half-hour. The change will cause seven to nine of the workers to lose their health benefits. There are between 27-28 cafeteria workers overall. Walsh said the workers do have a union, but as part of the contract the School Committee can set the hours of the cafeteria.