Danville Area School District officials concerned by class time lost for athletics

Jan. 9—DANVILLE — Administrators and directors at Danville Area School District expressed concerns regarding class time lost for travel to athletic events for student-athletes.

Last week, Assistant Superintendent Jason Moser presented data to board members and the public outlining the number of early dismissals and total amount of school time lost for sports teams in the district. Moser presented two charts, one showing data for school year 2022-2023 and one showing the current year.

Last year, the district's athletic teams experienced early dismissals ranging from only one to 12. The girls' soccer team and wrestling team each had early dismissals, which resulted in only 30 minutes of lost class time for the student-athletes, while the softball team's 12 early dismissals resulted in a total of eight hours and 15 minutes of class time lost, more than a full day of school.

This year, the numbers range from one early dismissal and a total of 45 minutes of lost class time for the boys' soccer and football teams to 10 early dismissals and six hours and 15 minutes of class time lost for members of the baseball team.

Moser said the magnitude of distance teams must travel to compete against other schools leads to several consequential results directly affecting students, schools and taxpayers.

Student-athletes are currently losing more instructional time than necessary, especially in the fall and spring, in order to travel 40 to 60 miles for a 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. start time, according to Moser.

"This leads to missed instructional time, lost opportunities to receive support and a compaction of educational activities that students must 'make up,'" Moser said. "What makes these trips more inane is that often, our students are traveling through or around several school districts that they are not even scheduled to compete against during the same season."

These lengthy trips result not only in lost class time, but also in late arrivals home, officials said. Winter athletic seasons sometimes have student-athletes returning to Danville at 10:30 p.m. or later while they are expected to return to school well-rested by 7:30 a.m., Moser added.

"These types of hours are incredibly detrimental to student performance, and plenty of brain research has proven that sleep deprivation is one of the biggest health challenges that our teenagers face, yet we are accepting our current structure as supportive of their well-being," the assistant superintendent said. "We may not be able to solve this problem, but we should not be exacerbating it."

Danville School Director Wayne Brookhart also made a statement at last week's board meeting indicating this was an issue that concerned him. Brookhart said this is something he has been vocal about for a while and plans to look into further.