Study of school start times is first on this year's list

Shawn Hardy

Dr. Kendra Trail, Greencastle-Antrim School District superintendent, presented her four main goals for the 2018-19 school year at Thursday night's school board meeting.

School safety and security — No. 1 on her list in 2017-18 — moved to the No. 2 spot based on physical and procedural changes made in the past year.

Determining whether the current start times — with secondary students coming in first followed by elementary-age students — is the best approach is her top goal this year. Coming in at No. 3 is completing a technology plan by June 30, 2019, followed at No. 4 by completing a Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence application by March 2020.

 Start times 

The district looked into the best start times a few years ago, but nothing happened and the school board has asked Trail to revisit the issue.

Some research shows that it is better for secondary students to begin their day later, Trail said. In G-A, high school and middle school start at 7:20 a.m. and the elementary and primary schools start at 8:15.

The plan is to form a committee of teachers, administrators, parents and students; review research articles; and make recommendations based on research and discussions.

Trail wants to hold community nights so parents and others in the community can hear information and ask questions and to provide monthly updates on the committee's progress.

 Safety and security 

The district has made great strides concerning safety and security, including completely closing the campus when school is in session. In addition, secure entrances were a summer project and School Gate Guardian screening is being implemented as people enter the buildings this year.

Trail said the school board was proactive in hiring a school police officer early in 2017.

She noted there are new provisions under Pennsylvania Act 44, including the formation of a statewide committee to create a safety and security survey for all districts.

Also at Thursday night's meeting, Travis Blubaugh's title was changed from director of transportation, school safety and security to school safety and security coordinator to comply with Act 44. He will remain director of transportation as well.

Technology plan 

The district has many technology tools, but not a plan on how to refresh them. Trail wants to form a committee to look at the sustainability of the technology and whether buying or leasing is the way to go as replacements are needed.

In addition, she said a committee previously discussed a 1-to-1 initiative that would give each student their own piece of technology.

"Is this the right way for G-ASD to go?" Trail asked.


The Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence is based on Baldridge, a national framework for education, health care, non-profits, manufacturing and small businesses.

Trail said although Greencastle has a reputation for being a very good school district, she hopes it is always striving to be better and wants to be great.

There is 50-page application and since 2002, only eight school districts have received the Baldridge Award.

The goal is not to get the award, but to see what the district does well and where it can improve, said Trail, whose presentation included the quote "Good is the enemy of great," by Jim Collins in his book "Good to Great."