School Start Times

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Public School superintendent Larry Nyland will propose new start times for next year, based on the work of the bell times task force.

8:00 a.m.: Most elementary schools, three K-8 schools, Denny International Middle School
8:50 a.m.: All high schools, most middle schools, five K-8 schools
9:40 a.m.: 10 elementary schools, three K-8 schools

Currently, most high schools and middle schools start at 7:50 and elementary schools at 8:25 or 9:15. Three years ago, a district proposal to adjust start times was rescinded due to family objections. This time, all grades start later, some much later. According to the article, some families are balking over the potential inconvenience of the 9:40 start time proposed for some elementary and K-8 schools.

Research has suggested for years that adolescents are not physiologically prepared for an early start, and that learning may suffer as a result. Just ask high school teachers how much they prefer first period classes! One progressive, public high school starts at 8:40 most mornings, 10:10 on “late start” days. However, multiple factors influence bell times: athletics schedules, historical practice, traffic, parent work obligations, and busing. Three years ago, busing drove the proposal of new start times, so that the district could save funds by running the same buses on multiple morning and afternoon routes.

Let’s hope that the best interests of youth carry the day on this question.

 

3 comments

  1. Marianne says:

    What puzzles me about this model is that elementary school kids start the latest, and for those parents, it’s the most inconvenient. Could online opportunities and a rethinking of after-school sports help put Upper School kids in the 9:40 spot

  2. Richard says:

    I agree with you that a lot of potential exists to rethink the end of the school day. However, so much cultural shift would be required (sports, employment, online learning), that much process would be required to socialize the desired change. At least it’s only 13 schools. Last time, all elementary schools were to start late in the morning.