New bell times for Pasco's Deer Park Elementary School in flux
Plans to start classes an hour later at Deer Park Elementary School in New Port Richey have drawn complaints from parents, and now a request for delay from the school's principal.
With the issue headed for a School Board vote on Tuesday, principal Margie Polen sent a weekend e-mail to board members and the superintendent proposing a one-year postponement of the change. That time would allow the school to assess the traffic impact of a new Dollar General store opening next door to the campus, which many students walk to and from daily, she suggested.
"I know that budget is a great concern to all of us, but just want us to stop for a minute and weigh those concerns against the safety of our students," Polen wrote. "I feel after this year, we will have a better idea about how much of a safety concern the location of the new store will be for Deer Park students and maybe the late bell change could be revisited then."
Superintendent Kurt Browning so far has not recommended anything other than the times that appear in the board's agenda. (See the agenda item here.) He did tell Polen via e-mail that he would discuss the matter with his top staff for possible reconsideration.
"I share your concerns regarding the safety of our students. This issue is made more complex due to the opening of the store next to your campus. You have my assurance that the right decision will be made regardless of budget ramifications," Browning wrote. "Student safety will always come before our budget."
Eight other schools also face changes in their start times for the new academic year. District officials said they had begun to hear concerns from parents at some of the others, which include New River Elementary and Fivay High. The board meeting begins at 6 p.m.