Starting with the 2015 – 2016 school year, high school start times will begin 40 minutes later throughout FCPS. Approved by the School Board on October 23, the new start times will be between 8:00 am and 8:10 am and end between 2:45 pm and 2:55 pm.
The start times are being shifted after years of parental pressure on the school board to change the schedule in order to allow their children to get more sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “middle and high schools should start class no earlier than 8:30 am.” The Academy noted that “adolescents have unique sleep rhythms that make it harder for them to go to sleep and wake up earlier than other people, and that sleep deprivation can affect academic achievement as well as cause other problems.”
According to sophomore Tara Boyle she will “actually get to sleep more… That’s the biggest [pro]” and sophomore Mayra Osorio agreed, saying “we will get more sleep.” Freshman Shelby Pierson added, “we don’t have to wake up early so we would have more time to get ready in the morning.” Health and PE teacher Tyrone Strother observed that “I think it should cut down on the tardiness of students coming to school late.”
There are some concerns that later school start times won’t actually result in teenagers getting more sleep. Administrative assistant Dina Dooley said, “If you have to be here at 9:00 am you are going to go to bed later, so I don’t think it is going to make a difference.”
Boyle said, “If schools go later, then sports go later, then we are still getting the same amount of sleep. I don’t even have enough time for homework, school and sports.” Osorio added, “I wont be able to do a lot homework, like I won’t have time.” Strother, one of the boys’ basketball team coaches, agreed, observing that students’ schedules will be significantly affected because “practice times [will be pushed back] as well as games.”
The coach also wondered about how many students will stay after for school work. “I think it makes a big difference if you have siblings,” Strother said. “I know that is a big thing that has come up with now the middle school kids will be getting out earlier, and so I know my daughter will be in middle school next year and there is no way she can stay home by herself … everyone has to look into is child care or getting off earlier to run home to be there for your middle school aged children. I’m trying to still work out time to stay after school and help students. It’s going to be a tight squeeze.”
In addition to the impact on family schedules, traffic patterns will be affected as well. “[I’ll] sit in traffic… I [will] still have to leave the same time in order to get here because there is more traffic later.”
“What we have right now isn’t broken,” Dooley added, “so why change it?”