Should school start later? High school students weigh in

The St. Paul Public School district is planning a controversial vote on November 15 to change school start times for most high school students from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM, for the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Pioneer Press. Changing school start times for the district has been discussed for years and the vote has been pushed back several times.

The SPPS district supporters of later start times for high school students cite studies that claim later sleep patterns, prevalent among high school students, have a biological basis. This results in 69% of high school students not getting 8 hours of sleep a night, when they should be getting at least 9. They contend also that later school start times do not affect when high school students fall asleep (according to the SPPS website page on the topic). Also on their website, they claim that an 8:30 AM start time is better academically, causing more students to score “proficient” on MCA math tests.

Those against later start times explain that implementing them will be costly and ineffective. According to the Pioneer Press, adding the necessary additional bus routes will cost the district at least 2 million dollars per year, and Metro Transit cannot afford to help without money from the state. They also protest that high school students will get home too late, especially if they are enrolled in extracurricular activities. The district admits that if school start times are changed, high school students who take care of siblings in elementary school may be unable to, as most elementary school start times would move from 8:30 AM to 7:30 AM, causing their school days to end earlier than high school students’.

But, how do high school students feel about later start times? Their opinions are often overlooked in this discussion. Below are interviews of four 9th grade students who gave their opinions on the topic.

Miranda Bade

I want the start times to stay the same. I’m involved in sports after school and it is nice to get home early. If the start times change to 8:30 AM I would get home later. This makes it hard to do go to practice and get all of my homework done. Getting off of school earlier makes it so I have more time after school to do things and to get stuff done.

Peter McHie

Personally, I think it would be a great decision to change the start times to 8:30 AM. I, for one have a difficult time waking up so early, and because of this I feel like it might be impacting my performance at school, even if it’s only a little. Also, my general demeanor/attitude towards school in general is infuenced by the early start time as I often feel very sad/angry in the mornings. I’m sure that having extra time to sleep would change that. Other students probably feel the same as I do.

Celia Morris

I don’t want start times to change because of after school activities. I play volleyball in the fall and track in the spring. If start time was to go later I would come home from my sports at 5:30 PM and on game nights I might get home as late as 10:30-11:00 PM, with lots of homework left to do. This might leave me to going to bed around 1 AM or 2 AM.

Ryder Hefferan

I would vote against changing the time, because I personally feel comfortable with waking up that early to go to school and I love having as much free time as I do after school. But, I do understand that some people would sacrifice free time for more hours of sleep.

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