School Start Times

14 Feb

A 9a.m. start time can obviously seem unappealing.

Who wants to get out at 4:05 p.m.? What about sports? What about jobs? What about kids who are early risers? What about extracurriculars? How will ALL kids be given the opportunity to take zero hour and fifth hour classes?

Hopefully this will help you understand the ins and outs of the 9 a.m. high school start time proposal, and why it truly is the best option – especially over the 7:30a.m. proposal.

Click the links for general information and common misconceptions before you read.

Neither a high school start time between 8a.m. and 8:59a.m. nor high school start times staying the same are viable options. The 9a.m. with early/later class options proposal allows students to go to school the way that works for them.

High school students will be bused to school for the 9a.m. start time and bused home at 4:05p.m under this proposal. There are options for before school classes at 7:30a.m. and after school classes at 4:15p.m.

  1. They will have the option of taking a class at 7:30a.m. in order to get out at 2:30p.m. which will require them to find a ride other than the school buses. (Student enrollment combined with teacher availability will dictate which classes are offered for the early class)

    1. CPS is working with Columbia Transit in order to ensure that city buses will make 20 minute intervals at all 3 high schools in the early morning and early afternoon so that all students can take a zero hour class starting at 7:30a.m. and get out at 2:30p.m. without needing a private ride.

      1. However, there are many other options besides the city bus: biking, walking, carpooling, personal driving, driving with parents.

    2. Students are also able to take an AUT/release time in order to start school at 9a.m. and get out at 2:30p.m. (How this system works currently).

    3. This means that if you have a job or after school obligations – you can take a class at 7:30a.m. OR take an AUT/release time for your last hour, start at 9a.m., and get out early for the activity. Talking to your counselors about your schedule is key here. Individual plans (maybe even credit through career exploration) are a possibility.

  1. Some athletic activities will practice both in the morning before 9a.m. and after school in order to end after school practice at approximately the same time they do currently [in the 2012-2013 school year].

    1. This means that during the season in which they practice, athletes may not be able to take a class at 7:30a.m., nor the 4:15p.m. class – however they will still have the normal school day of 9a.m. to 4:05p.m. and the classes that come with it.

    2. For athletics/competitive activities that do not have practice in the morning: the early out does NOT count as an AUT or equivalent class, so a 7:30a.m. class and an AUT may be taken in one schedule without it affecting MSHSAA eligibility.
  1. Students in band will practice in the morning, as they do currently, with practice likely starting at 7:30a.m.

    1. This means that students in band will be unable to take a zero hour class the semester that they compete/have practice before school in the morning. If band continues to have early practice students would be unable to take an early class.

  1. There will likely be increased before school activities.

    1. However, this means that students might have to decide between a 7:30a.m. class and a morning club, sport, or fine art activity.

  1. Traffic will likely not affect students in a negative way – (no worse than the current traffic situation).

    1. However it will decrease traffic accidents by nearly 17% according to a study in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

    2. To get Superintendent Chris Belcher’s opinion on it: “Regarding the 9:00 am start and traffic: Your guess is as good as mine. However, most local traffic is abating by about 8:30 am. The high school traffic will depend on the number of drivers taking an early class. For instance, if 30% of the students who drive take an early class or are participating in an early morning practice/club event, the congestion for the 9:00 am start time will be much less.”

  1. Teachers will not be required to work more shifts than is necessary now – they will just be rescheduled with what works for them and their department.

    1. In addition, students will not be required (nor allowed) to take an extra class beyond the maximum of 8. MO schools are only allotted money from the state government to pay for 8 classes per student.
  1. There are increased opportunities to take blended or online classes in the morning or after school.

    1. The district is working to offer more blended and online courses.

    2. Student enrollment combined with teacher availability will dictate which classes are offered before and after school.

  1. Elementary schools will have adventure club starting at 7a.m. and until 6p.m. in the afternoons, and schools are looking to expand this program to accommodate as many students as possible.

  1. Middle schools will have activity buses after school at least 4 days per week.

Under the 7:30a.m. start time proposal, the flexibility of this proposal is eliminated.

  • Zero hour classes for before school clubs and fine art activities such as band and show choir will be held as early as 6:00-6:30a.m. which will decrease attendance, the energy of these students, and put more stress on those who must come to school so early.

  • Traffic accidents will increase.

  • Attendance likely to decrease, with tardies increasing.

  • Students will get less sleep and as a result lack energy, leading to more sleeping in class, and less engaged learning.

  • Athletic injuries will increase by 68%

  • Some coaches worry that the early start times will impact student athlete’s academic success.

In Conclusion

No one proposal will satisfy everyone. There are drawbacks to everything and there are compromises that must be made no matter what the Board decides in March. The interesting thing about this proposal is the freedom and choices it gives students. Under the 9a.m. start time, CPS high school students have the opportunity to learn and go to school the way that works for them. With an innovative schedule like this, there are more opportunities for online classes, blended classes, and traditional classes.

However, this also means that students must consider their extracurricular activities more carefully. No one will be able to play in the marching band, and on the varsity football team, and take an early morning class – but in this case, should we consider pacifying the over-committed student more important than offering a schedule that gives every student so many opportunities?

The 7:30a.m. start time goes against numerous studies that show evidence of late start times benefiting students. It will limit fine arts due to concern over after school activities like sports, which could also take a blow due to academic stress and increased injuries. As far as sticking to the norm, the early start time does its job, but it is not what is right for high school students. And that is key. A school district should work with and for its students, and that is what the 9a.m. proposal shows that the 7:30a.m. proposal does not.