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Parents are protesting a proposal — meant to prevent kids from having to take the bus in the early morning — that they say would make the school day too long.

Earlier this year, the San Diego Unified board proposed to cut costs by streamlining bus routes. An unintended consequence was that some children would be forced to board the bus extremely early in the morning. So a couple weeks ago, the board proposed mandating that school could not start until after a certain hour. I quoted a parent, Lisa Barron, who would have been affected in a story about the budget cuts:

Two of her triplets have severe autism and need to be dressed, have their diapers changed, and be spoon-fed their breakfasts before catching the bus to a special program at Bayview Terrace Elementary. Proposed changes would push the buses from 7:25am to 6:40am, she said.

“I’m losing sleep over it,” Barron said, explaining that it takes over an hour of constant care to prepare the two boys. “I cannot put my two handicapped children on buses in the dark. And a lot of these kids are very medically fragile. They need sleep. It’s dangerous for their health.” She added, “Why are they causing more suffering and leaving some of the fluff?”

But parents now say that by preventing schools from starting too early, the board would inadvertently push the school day too late, to nearly 4 p.m. Parent Diana Masser-Frye wrote the following:

The new schedule will make it impossible for working parents (such as me) to drop off our children at school and still get to work at a reasonable hour.  Some families will need to chose between leaving their children unsupervised in front of the school, or losing their job. The new schedule makes it difficult, if not impossible for children to participate in after-school activities, such as scouts, sport, music, theater, dance, etc.  Most of these begin by 3:30 or 4 pm.

The worried families have started an online petition, which they say got 146 signatures in its first day before the website went down. They are also circulating paper petitions.

EMILY ALPERT

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