Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Start time shift shuffles family schedules

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Editor’s note: We are reprinting this article from the Hamline Elementary School newspaper, the Snelling Connections, created through a partnership with Hamline University.
Beep Beep! Set your alarms early SPPS schools because there are some major changes happening that you don’t want to miss! This decision was made at a BOE meeting. (Board of Education) The SPPS district is shuffling start times for most of the schools. In fall of 2015, the district staff proposed the start times for 2016 – 2017 but no change was made. The current superintendent is Dr. Joe Gothard. Why did they make that decision? Let’s find out by reading this article.
The evidence behind this change is that secondary students (High school and middle school) need 8 – 10 hours of sleep. But only about 31% of high school students actually get that much. 69% don’t receive their 8 hours of sleep. They might not receive this amount of sleep because of little time to do homework, having to babysit for sibling, or staying up on devices. What happens when secondary students receive fewer than eight hours? The rates of depression, anxiety and fatigue increase. Basically, it just is better for their general health when they get 8+ hours of sleep. But not everyone agrees with the school board on this topic. Some people feel little kids should get more sleep. Some people think older kids should arrive home first so they can pickup or care for younger siblings.
Jessica Kopp is a parent of a 5th grader at Hamline and she said, “The decision has already been made, so I guess in some ways we just have to live with the decision.”
I also talked to the superintendent of schools Dr. Joe Gothard. He told me, “In my position, I organize information for our board of education to make decisions that affect policies and governments in the school district.”
I also asked one fifth grader his opinion. Finn McCauley said “The start times are good now, they don’t need to be changed.” My opinion is that the start times were fine the way they were before. But we have to live with that decision because it is made.
How is the district preparing to help families with these changes? Many families are concerned about additional childcare and what options will be available. Some options are Discovery Club, Extended Day for Learning (EDL), and Rec Check. Rec Check is a free after-school program for kids in grades 1-5 that occurs at the recreation centers. Some of the biggest worries for families are safety, and childcare. The new 7:30 a.m. start times means that elementary kids who ride the busses (K-5), their first bus pickup is at 6:30 a.m. and will arrive at school at about 7:15 a.m. Sometimes it can be dark at 6:30 in the morning and some parents are worried for the safety of them and their child. Those same kids will be dismissed at about 2. Not many parents are at home from work around that time of day and not everyone can stay home by themselves.
These are the three tiers of start times:
• Tier 1 starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. (First pickup is at 6:30 a.m.)
• Tier 2 starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. (First pickup is at 7:30 a.m.)
• Tier 3 starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. and those schools will not change.
The evidence is that older kids do better with more sleep. Some people don’t agree with this decision but it has been made. The district is working on implementing plans to help families with childcare and safety. The three tiers each have their own start times and dismissal times. If you want to learn more about the start times, head over to the district website under start times. Have a great year!