The Park City School District is proceeding down the path of having high school students start school after 8:30 AM. The school district has formed a committee who will be tasked with providing recommendations; however, it looks like later start times for an older portion of our kids is a done deal. However, what does that mean for younger students?
A reader wrote in and said, “The Park City School Board just made a motion to implement a committee to move forward with changing school start times for secondary schools to start no earlier than 8:30am. They have recommended this with the implication that elementary schools would start earlier (7:45am) to accommodate bus scheduling. While the research supporting later start times for adolescent students is valid, there is also research showing that elementary students suffer when start times are early as well. Changing secondary start times at the expense of elementary students’ achievement makes no sense and this group of parents and the school board has flagrantly disregarded these students in their decisions so far.”
The reader also provided a copy of a University of Kentucky study that talks about impacts of earlier start times on elementary students. Effects on younger students seem to be pronounced as well. It’s just not a high school problem.
What is interesting in the study, and from discussions we have heard, is that the decision to stagger school start times (i.e. why all school can’t start later) is busing. If you want to use the same buses and drivers, you need to stagger school start times. If not, you need more buses and drivers. Thus, it costs a lot more. In Park City’s case, that number is likely more than a million dollars more.
It’s an interesting problem. Should we sacrifice younger minds for older ones? Isn’t there any other creative way out of this? You’d think in a place with as talented people as Park City that there would be some other alternatives.
Hopefully the committee tasked with looking at this can come up with something better than just starting high school later and starting elementary school earlier.
Here is the UK study talking about elementary kids’ impacts, in case you are interested.
h/t to the reader who sent this in