SPPS school start times

During a school board meeting on November 1st, of this year, the St. Paul Public School’s (SPPS) administration presented a plan to change the school start times of most secondary schools in the SPPS district. The current start times for most of the secondary schools in Saint Paul is 7:30 am. The proposed plan would change all secondary schools, who start at 7:30, to 8:30, an hour later. This would also result in the changing of end times at secondary schools from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

The board is scheduled to vote on the motion to change times on November 15th. This motion would take full effect in the 2018-19 school year. The change would have a large impact on students, teachers, and parents in the SPPS system.

This new system could have a few benefits. One advantage is that it could increase productivity, due to the fact that it would supposedly allow for more sleep for students. Studies show that when students get less than 8 hours of sleep, they have a much higher chance of developing depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Also, when students sleep for longer each night, they are much less likely to be involved in criminal behavior, or take part in the use of drugs. In theory, if the start time is moved back, students would have higher grades, they would have better mental and physical health, and would be more likely to make more logical decisions throughout the day.

As this motion proposes later start times for secondary schools, primary education would in fact see earlier start times. According to the SPPS website, most elementary schools are getting a reduction of start times by about an average amount of 45 min. Schools such as Horace Mann, Hamline Elementary, and Highland Park Elementary would have a school day from 7:45 am till 2:15 pm under this proposal. An issue that is presented by doing this would be family routines. With younger children getting out earlier than their older siblings from school, there might not be anyone to watch them if both parents work. While after school child care is available like EDL or Discovery Club in some schools, lots of families won’t be able to afford these necessities.

Another consequence of the start times changing is the end times changing too. With a lot of students who do after school activities that usually take about 2 hours, they would get home at 5:00 pm which is fairly late in the day. Getting home this late gives students less time to do their school work, which results in them staying up later. By changing these times, students truly get the same amount of sleep as they did before, but will feel more stress to finish their homework late at night.  

This change in start times at HSPH has it’s advantages, but it also has many disadvantages as well. We will have to wait till November 15th when the board votes on the motion.

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