Schools join push for Central Time

In the summer of 2009, a group of Hoosiers concerned about the time zone in which Indiana was placed began a push to get the state on Central Time. Since then, the momentum has continued to grow and in next year’s legislative session, a State Representative will introduce a resolution to have the state on Central Time. In the meantime, the Central Time Coalition sent resolutions to Indiana’s public schools to see if they would endorse the group’s efforts. Two of the three districts in Whitley County have since approved the resolutions. Whitley County Consolidated Schools has not yet received the resolution, according to Pat O’Connor, superintendent of the district. For Smith-Green Community Schools, the 4-1 vote to approve the resolution was based on the students’ wellbeing. “Safety was the biggest concern,” said Tanya Young, president of the board of school trustees for Smith-Green. Board member Mike Sturgis voted against the resolution. He could not be reached Monday for comment on his vote. Whitko Community Schools also approved the resolution this month. At the time, Steve Clason, superintendent of the district, said he felt an earlier time for sunrise would help reduce fog and snow delays. Aside from delays from weather, the Central Time Coalition has compiled a list of several deaths, robberies and rapes that occurred while students waited in the dark for the bus in the morning. Sue Dillon, spokesperson for the Central Time Coalition, said there were valid reasons for Indiana to be in the Eastern Time Zone in the 1960s, but modern communication techniques have “negated those advantages to commerce.” She said the coalition’s push for Central Time has nothing to do with Daylight Savings Time, and is only a time zone issue. Although WCCS has not yet examined the resolution, O’Connor said she agrees with the argument about the likelihood of fewer delays due to weather, especially fog, if sunrise was earlier in the day. In the last school year, the district had “significant” fog delays, she said, and are “educational losses” from such delays. “As a former science teacher, I know we’re in the Central Time Zone,” O’Connor said of Indiana’s geography as it relates to time zones. On Saturday, the Central Time Coalition will hold a conference in Indianapolis with a panel discussion on the effects the Eastern Time Zone has on Indiana. In addition to the panel, State Representatives, school administrators, transportation and recreation leaders, business owners and farmers, and private citizens will speak.