Payson Students Struggle To Get To Class Before The Bell

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In one sense, being late for class is a minor offense compared to fighting or vandalism, but missed time from class adds up.

At an estimated average of three minutes each, "tardies" account for 136 hours and 48 minutes of lost study time at area elementary and middle schools.

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Older students are showing up at high school and middle school as much as an hour and a half late for classes. With tardiness a growing problem, teachers and principals are taking action.

"Promptness is a life skill," said Peggy Miles, principal of Julia Randall Elementary School.

At Rim Country elementary schools, the morning begins with math. The first bell alerts students they have five minutes to be in their seat, ready to work.

"Our teachers are really good at having things ready to go," said Gail Gorry, principal at Frontier Elementary. "Graded activities are happening from the minute that second bell rings (at 8 a.m.).

"If we have a first grader and they are late 50 times and they come in at 8:15 a.m., they have missed 12 and a half hours of school," said Will Dunman, Payson Elementary principal. "As a first grader, reading is crucial for them and we've lost that time. We can hold them in at recess and do interventions, but that's not (fun for the child). We have older students that come in an hour and a half late. Do the math on that one. Plus, they are missing math first thing in the morning."

To combat the problem, the schools sent out letters to parents.

Many times teacher warnings are met with apathy or excuses by habitual offenders, but most parents see the notices and the depth of the problem sinks in.

"Parents don't want their child to be punished for being late because it's their fault," Dunman said.

The letter middle school principal Monica Nietze sent out raised awareness. Now parents call RCMS to tell of doctor and other appointments so the school knows whether or not a lateness or absence is legitimate.

The letters Gorry sent out over Christmas break for anyone who had missed more than 10 days or had 10 tardies seemed to have an impact.

FES tardies decreased from second to third quarter by 227 (over 22 percent).

Dunman sent out a similar letter, but saw an increase of a couple hundred instead of a decrease.

Timeliness is the dual responsibility of parent and child.

According to the Parent Institute, getting ready ahead of time is one trait successful students possess.

Being on time is a choice.

Five to ten minutes can be spent the night before packing the backpack, making lunch and laying out clothes, to make the morning routine flow easier with less stress for both parent and child.

And less stress can make it easier to learn.

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