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Columns

January 6, 2014

Moving clocks forward caused local controversy in January 1974

Energy conservation became a way of life in the early to mid-1970s. To many that meant turning back the thermostat, putting on a sweater, driving slower, investing in insulation for the home or business, and much more.

Congress had another idea in the beginning of 1974. By implementing year-round Daylight-Saving Time, the lawmakers felt moving the clocks forward would increase daylight hours in the winter months, and thereby reduce lighting and heating demands, crime and automobile accidents.

It had another effect for students, faculty and staff in the Oneonta City School District. It meant going to school in the dark.

This time of year the sun rises around 7:30 a.m. Beginning on Monday, Jan. 7, 1974, the new law meant sunrise came an hour later. For my classmates and I at Oneonta High School, this meant we saw the sun rising in the early part of the first period of the school day.

“Area school officials have apparently taken a wait and see attitude before adjusting to the problems created by the switch to Daylight Saving time,” it was reported in The Oneonta Star on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

“Many school men yesterday reported complaints from parents of school children — particularly from those with small children who ride buses to and from classes — regarding the youngsters being out in the dark morning hours.”

There were discussions of possibly changing the school schedules, to start later, but many obstacles needed to be overcome to make the changes. Schools had to coordinate sending students to classes at the region’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) campuses. Some school superintendents felt no changes in schedules were necessary. Bus drivers who had other jobs would have to adjust. Essentially, it was a situation where everyone “agreed to disagree,” and no changes were made.

The dark morning travels to school still didn’t sit well with some, and they decided to try to do something about it.

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