In December, a man kidnapped and raped an eighth-grade girl when she was walking to Hannah Penn Middle School. The same month, police said three men tried to abduct a fourth-grader as she walked home from Phineas Davis Elementary School.

Those incidents make York City School Board President Jeffrey Kirkland a little wary of the idea of students' walking to school in the dark.

But York City doesn't have a bus service for students, and daylight-saving time begins Sunday -- three weeks earlier than usual.

"I think at that time it would be prudent of us to reinforce that with our students ... that they do need to be extra careful," Kirkland said. "Any perpetrators out there would have the cover of darkness."

Some students leave their homes as much as 45 minutes before school starts -- the start is 8 a.m. for secondary schools and 8:15 a.m. for elementary.

On the morning of March 12, the first school day after the change, the sun will rise over York County at 7:24 a.m. and set at 7:10 p.m. Yesterday, the sun rose at 6:32 a.m. -- before most students set out for school -- and set at 6:05 p.m.

The hazards aren't limited to school districts where students walk to school. Some students who ride buses to suburban schools are walking to their bus stops before some York City students need to wake up.

Long rides: In South Eastern School District, some secondary students trek to their bus stop as early as 6:35 a.m., said Superintendent Tracy Shank.

Having students out and about on the school district's rural roads when it's dark is a concern, she said.

"A lot of our kids, because of the location of their bus stop and where they live, walk along (Route) 74 and (Route) 851," she said. "We want them to be seen. It's not like the city, where we have sidewalks."

Students from across the county -- from South Eastern to Northeastern and beyond -- attend York County School of Technology.

That makes for a long bus ride, with some tech-school students getting into buses as early as 6:16 a.m., said school spokeswoman Jean Parks.

But because of the distance most students have to travel to get to the school, there are almost always students walking in the dark, she said. The students have become accustomed to it.

"Whether the time changes in March or April, there are kids that get on in the dark," she said. "In December, they are getting on and off the bus in the dark."

Need sleep: Parent Eileen Krecker has a 15-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter at Red Lion Area Senior High.

Her daughter drives to school, and Krecker drives her son to school, so bus stops aren't a concern, she said.

Getting out of bed is another story.

"An hour makes a difference in a teenager's life," she said. "Every moment under those covers is precious in the morning, especially when it's dark and cold in the morning. Physiologically ... their bodies need to rest."

She said she hopes her kids don't have tests at school next week.

But students across the county will -- reading and math standardized testing under the federal No Child Left Behind Law starts March 12 for students in grades 3-through-8 and 11.

Krecker said whoever came up with the idea of moving daylight-saving time up three weeks was "goofy."

"Obviously they don't have any children," she said. "Oh well. It is what it is and we'll just have to deal with it."

Some school officials said they don't anticipate problems with computers or other time-keeping gadgets.

Parks said the tech school's internal technology department has received "patches" from Microsoft to make the necessary adjustments to software on 700 computers that were built before the new rule took effect.

Early start: Last year, daylight-saving time began on April 2 and ended Oct. 29.

This year, it will begin March 11 and end Nov. 4, according to the US Naval Observatory's Astronomical Applications Department.

The three-week early start for this year was authorized to begin this year when President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The Department of Energy will study and report the impact of this change (in energy consumption) to Congress, which can decide whether to resume the old schedule after study is completed.

There is a half-hour of Civil Twilight, a period commonly referred to as dusk or dawn, immediately before sunrise and right after sunset. During this time, there is enough light from the rising or setting sun that artificial light sources are not needed.

-- Reach Christina Kauff man at 505-5436 or ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.
About daylight-saving time
Last year, daylight-saving time began April 2 and ended Oct. 29.

This year, it will begin March 11 and end Nov. 4.

The three-week early start was authorized to begin this year when President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The Department of Energy will study and report the impact of this change (in energy consumption) to Congress, which can decide whether to resume the old schedule after study is completed.

Today, the sun rose over York County at 6:25 a.m. and is expected to set at 6:04 p.m.

On March 12, the first day of school after the change, the sun will rise at 7:24 a.m. and set at 7:10 p.m.

There is a half-hour of Civil Twilight, a period commonly referred to as dusk or dawn, immediately before sunrise and right after sunset. During this time, there is enough light from the rising or setting sun that artificial light sources are not needed.

Source: US Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department.
Safety tips
Safety tips for pedestrians:

--- Walk on sidewalks if possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the edge of the road or on the left shoulder of the road, facing the traffic flow.

--- Cross at marked crosswalks or intersections and look left, right and left for traffic.

--- Obey traffic signals.

--- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing; make sure drivers can see you.

--- Carry a flashlight.

Source: Federal Highway Administration