School Start Time Change Gaining Steam?

Administration will look at costs associated with two new, later times for Greenfield High School, where students currently begin class at 7:10 a.m.

Greenfield School Board members appear to be coming around on changing the Greenfield High School start time.

That includes members who initially changed the start time to 7:10 a.m. about 6 years ago, and those who voted against a move to start school later in 2011.

Board members directed administration to find out busing costs associated with either moving the high school start time to 7:30 a.m. and leaving all the rest of the schools as they are now, and moving the high school to 7:45 a.m. and pushing back the Middle School by 12 minutes to 7:30 a.m. and Maple Grove and Elm Dale elementary schools back 30 minutes to 8:45 a.m., a plan proposed in 2011.

The board rejected the latter two years ago because it came with a $210,000 price tag thanks to increased busing costs.

Today’s cost, depending on how much it is, might be worth the price, Board president Bruce Bailey said.

“I’m thinking a 7:30 start time; I’d be for that,” said Bailey, who voted against the change in 2001. “I’d like to see the cost, make sure it’s not extravagant. And we pay it, we pay the cost. We go to 7:30 start time (for the high school) and then we do a district-wide study. … A 7:30 start time puts us in line with a gazillion other schools.”

High school special education teacher Cindy Sibley, a 14-year veteran said changing the school start time at a steep price doesn’t make much sense. She said the district doesn’t have enough guidance councilors — she said having just one at the Middle School was absurd — and believes a police liaison officer at the Middle School would go a long way in sending a message that the district does not tolerate bullying and fighting.

Sibley also said the district has several non-English speaking students and money could be better spent meeting their needs.

“Right now we have so many more needs where $200,000 could go and right now we’re not meeting some of our basic needs,” she said.

Board member Cathy Walsh, who was on the board when it voted to change the high school start time to 7:10 a.m., agreed those are all among the district’s concerns, but said the start-time issue shouldn’t be ignored.

“Where is the research to show that our early start time has had a good impact on our kids?” Walsh asked. “Where’s the research that shows that it ever made our test scores go up, that our kids are doing better as a result of this?

“As a board, we shouldn’t be ignoring that.”

Walsh believes the issue isn’t cut and dried and that it involves many aspects of school scheduling and the delivery of education.

Among the problems associated with the current start time is the tardy rate. The high school had 9,671 instances of first-hour tardies during 2011-12, up from 8,591 in 2010-11. The high school had more than 7,228 in the 2007-08, 08-09 and 09-10 school years after having just 4,086 in 2006-07, when school started at 7:15 a.m.

Resident Dolores Skowronek, a longtime proponent of starting high school later, said the board should do what’s right for students, and do it now.

“Four years ago I approached this board with concerns about the 7:10 start time, and I foolishly assumed that if given information about best practices and research evidence, the board of education would do the right thing and change the schedule,” she said. “I was wrong. … Stop making excuses that have nothing to do with education and stop justifying the early start time.”

KHD January 26, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Hey Dolores, how come the video is private now? You dont want people to see how you were trying to put words into your sons mouth? Some of the comments were just that and didn't give an opinion for or against. I also can see how you care so much about the District, when the only time you attend is when school start times are on the Agenda. Then when the subject has been discussed, you leave. You get people from other Districts, not to mention from other parts of the Country to speak in your favor. They should worry about what happens where THEY live. That money can be spent more wisely in other areas. ASK the Teachers. Go look at the comments in the Journal article. Most have no sympathy for kids that can't adjust because they stay up late, and for the coddling parents. According to the studies you post, kids sleep patterns are from 11:00 pm until 8:00 am until they are 24 years old. So they shouldn't start school until 9:00 am and get out about 4:15? Kids would then be going home in the dark. When your kids get in college, are you going to whine to the college that 8:00 am is to early? Wonder why so many other kids have no problem and get good grades? Ahhhhh, maybe they have Parents that crack the whip once in a while. This issue should be put to a referendum, so all have a say.
karen k January 27, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Greenfield has the earliest start time in the state. I think it needs to be adjusted.
sportsmom January 29, 2013 at 05:16 PM
karen k.....by 5 - 15 minutes in most schools. Maybe let's start at 7:20 which is when many districts in the state start, then we wouldn't be "the latest" in the state. My son has never been tardy once, plays on different school sports teams throughout the year, and carries a 3.9 average. Yes, sometimes he's tired in the morning, but he gets through the day and has never complained that school started at 7:10. Dolores....can you explain to me why the ACT and SAT start early in the morning?? Isn't is because students perform better? (That's what I meant when I said "you can find research to support any side of a argument")
Dolores Skowronek January 30, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Sportsmom, I was honestly happy to see your comment about pushing the start time back by 10 minutes. So many people in our community aren’t willing to concede even a little bit – so I appreciated that. However, when I was on the ad hoc start time committee two years ago we had two physicians from the Medical College of Wisconsin give a presentation. Both were board certified in Pediatrics and Sleep Medicine. Very smart women. They told the committee that the start time change would need to be at least 30 minutes for students to benefit from it. Our board of education would be wise to listen to the experts on this issue. As I understand it, most kids at GHS take the ACT - so I looked at their website. Reporting time for the test is usually 8:00. Yes, that’s early, but not as early as 7:10. http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/tips/test-day.html Also, I have a document that DPI sent me in 2010. According to their data - the average high school start time in approximately 2/3 of the districts in Wisconsin is 8:00 or later. The information is 3 years old but should still be fairly accurate.
Mrs Sunny February 04, 2013 at 02:20 AM
The school times need to change. In this economy, we need to work. With Maple Grove starting at 9:15a.m., it is hard to find a job that lets you start at 9:30 or later. The Greenfield schools offer morning daycare at an outrageous price. We need to change the GHS start times and the elementary schools need to start earlier.


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