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Hungry for a break

Parent group says BC High schedule means many students missing lunch

— “He has a good solid transcript so far, but he needs other classes to compete. He needs more than his core classes and band,” she said.

Another Parents for 9 Periods member, Mary Bilik, said her son is coping with not having lunchtime and will continue to do so if changes aren’t made, but she doesn’t like the situation.

“Kids should be able to navigate their school day with art, music, core classes, and lunch, in a way that integrates their school day successfully,” she said. “I just don’t think this is the best possible scenario.”

A New York Times article in 2008 titled “Busy Students Get a New Required Course: Lunch” highlighted the growing issue and what some schools in the greater Hudson Valley region and beyond are doing to combat the problem. Some solutions include creating a 30-minute mandatory lunch period, extending the school day by a few extra minutes to add a ninth period, or alternating additional classes.

These are all ideas Riddell thinks the district should look into.

According to the district, officials met with Riddell last year to look into the feasibility of the group’s idea and found that funding was a main concern.

“Without incurring additional costs, the district would still maintain the same number of teachers and instructional sections, and still could not guarantee that a student would not opt to take a class during his or her lunch period and that there would be no conflicts in scheduling,” said William DeVoe, a districts spokesman. “Adding a period before or after the traditionally scheduled school day would require adjusting teachers’ contracts and additional cost in transportation.”

Still, the group would like the issue to be looked into again.

Parents for 9 Periods will be holding two informational meetings on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Bethlehem Public Library. One will be held at 7 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. The group will have handouts outlining the current school schedule and will compare it to several alternatives. The group would also like additional feedback from parents and the community.

“With a new superintendent and a new principal coming, maybe something will change,” said Riddell. “But we know it will take a few years for anything to be implemented.”

For more information about the group and future meetings, email Amy Riddell at bchscourse@gmail.com.

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