December 16, 2017
School & Youth
20° Scattered Clouds

Parents Respond To Later School Start Times

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October 4, 2017

For years, a group of advocates made up of parents and pediatricians called on Anne Arundel County Public Schools to change start times, saying that 7:17am was too early for sleep-deprived teenagers to be starting class. Following months of public forums and surveys, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted in September 2016 to shift start and dismissal times for the 2017-2018 school year, pushing high school schedules forward 13 minutes and all other schools forward 15 minutes, and requiring the purchase of 10 additional buses and costing approximately $618,000.

Following the first week of school, the Severna Park Voice asked parents and students how they felt about the new routine, and the responses were mixed. Here is a sample of a few comments that were posted. To join the conversation, follow “The Severna Park Voice” on Facebook.

 

I like the small change for high schoolers, it is a small step in the right direction, but [I] believe the high school and elementary schools should switch start times per the real recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Kerry Mernin Fairweather

I have a 6-year-old and I have to be at work by 8:20am (I'm a teacher), so I have to drop him off at 7:30 in the morning. His school doesn't even let students in until 9:15 now, and they don't get out until 4:00. The little ones have been up for hours already, so this day is way too long for them. Not to mention the issues with the buses. This may be OK for high school students, but for elementary school kids, this is not OK and it's not appropriate for their age.

Genevieve Grogan Stewart

Yes, even 15 minutes makes a statistically significant difference. The problem isn't the start time; it's the fact that we have so many schools and we daisy-chain their transportation. Otherwise, you would need to massively increase the number of buses and drivers, and the drivers would actually end up with fewer hours.
It's a difficult situation. My wife is an elementary school teacher and they have one of the latest start times in the county, 9:35-4:00. Kinda crazy! But until they find a better busing solution, we're stuck with it.

Scott Carey

We have been thrilled with the change. While it seems small, for some reason it has been a big relief. My son is at the high school and we just love it – no more darkness in the morning for the bus.

Michelle Meyers Monroe

I have one child in high school and one in a late-starting middle school and they are both much happier this year. They smile more; it's really nice to see. My middle school student gets home 15 minutes later but still before I'm back from work. Sports practice has to wait on me and other parents finishing work, not on school hours. Elementary hours are all over the place - starting 8:15 to 9:45. All elementary schools really should start early in the morning (before 9:00am, probably before 8:30) - not for parent convenience but because young children (kindergarten through grade 5) wake earlier, and it's safer and healthier for young children to go to school earlier.

Claudia O'Keeffe

As a high school teacher, I have seen no change in the high schoolers in my first periods. Good or bad. They are exactly the same as before the 13-minute change.

Lori Habicht Greenlee

My school has had late buses every day this year. Dismissal takes a full 20 to 25 minutes. My own children are now getting home a full 30 minutes later than last year. Unacceptable waste of $1.7 million. Particularly since the kids that need sleep the most (high schoolers) still have to wake at an unhealthy hour. Teens produce melatonin later at night [and] therefore fall asleep later. They are the ones who should be starting at 9:00am, not elementary. Child care is not the job of public education nor teenage students. Let them sleep. It’s awful as an employee and as a parent of multi-aged kids.

Tamatha Cho

I don’t hate change, but I think we need a little more time to work out the kinks in the system before we judge it. Ideally, businesses would be aware of the needs of their employees and allow for schedule adjustments to accommodate the time change for elementary and middle schools, but I assume that’s not always possible.
Ideally, every field has lights and there is a plethora of buses. But that’s not the case. Spring sports will have the biggest issue with any games before the time change occurs, and spring is already the shortest season of the year. Really, after-school activities and non-school activities should adjust their start times for their participants to be able to manage the new schedule, too. But the fight for facilities usage has always been a struggle.

Mere McAlister

As a high school student, it is nice to have a few extra minutes in the morning. However, I would much rather get out of school at 2:05 like past years instead of the new later time. Getting out early is more beneficial than going in later.

Liz O'Neill

We personally are loving the extra 15 minutes. It's a small but significant improvement for high school students, but we haven't had any of the issues with late buses, and I don't feel that the 15 minutes of later dismissal is making it harder to get homework completed nor has it been an extra challenge to get to after-school activities. Would love to have elementary school and high school times switch as that seems to be a huge consistent complaint among other respondents.

Sandy Matthews

 

In addition to soliciting comments on Facebook, we reached out to Anne Arundel County Public Schools for its take on the new start times. “The issue of school start times has been discussed for many years, and the one constant has been that not everyone will agree on any single schedule,” said Bob Mosier, public information officer. “The board made the decision to change start times nearly a year ago, and we know that change will take adjustment on the part of everyone.”


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