School Start Time Debate

Kaleigh Dooney, Writer/Producer

How would you feel about having to reschedule your life over a new school start time? This has become a very strong possibility in the upcoming 2020-2021 school years.  Franklin district has been thinking about changing the start time for elementary, middle, and high school. They are looking into this because of the impacts of sleep deprivation. The impacts of sleep deprivation can be becoming overweight, not getting enough physical activity, suffering from depression symptoms, or engaging in unhealthy behavior like drinking, and drugs, and performing poorly in school. In the evolution of this, a survey showed that students at Franklin High School are receiving 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Changing the start time raises many concerns for everyone in their everyday life.

First is transportation. Transportation is proposed that charter students would be transported on the same bus as high school students which would save the school $350,000. While busing to and from is an option for some people, others may be impacted. The Franklin board proposed many scenarios but some of the most considered are Model A, Model B, and Model C.

Model A proposes that elementary school goes from 7:45 AM- 1:55 PM, middle school goes from 8:15 AM- 2:45 PM, and high school goes from 8:45 AM-3:15 PM.

Model B proposes that elementary school goes from 7:55 AM-2:05 PM, middle school goes from 8:55 AM- 3:25 PM, and high school goes from 8:25 AM-2:55 PM.

The last scenario is Model C which proposes that all schools start at the same time which is 8:30 AM. The elementary school would be dismissed at 2:40 PM, followed by the middle school at 3 PM, and high school also dismissed at 3 PM. Faculty and staff voted on the scenarios, and 61% thought Model A would make the mornings easier, and 34% thought it would make it more difficult. For Model B, 42% high school parents thought it would make the mornings easier, but overall one-quarter thought it would make it more difficult.

While getting more sleep is all busy students can dream of, many concerns come with a start time change. Students and parents are worried about athletics, homework, child care, and the adjustments that they would have to make to family schedules. Staff and faculty fear that the start time will mess up their work-life balance, or afternoon commitments.

For high school students, many changes would be brought among their everyday schedule. For example, Scenario A would involve the need for students to leave class early for games, and high school athletic related activities. Billy Gardner, 15-year-old Franklin athlete speaks out about leaving class early.

“I think I would like leaving class early for games if it wasn’t happening on a daily basis but depending on the class it seems okay to be excused.” While Billy feels it may not have a bad impact, others feel that the missed work and class time will add up and impact their learning, and overall subject grade. Many students argue that academics should come before school.

In addition, sports like gymnastics may need to shift to morning practices negating the benefit of a start time for students involved in gymnastics. The swim team will also be impacted because pool time availability will be difficult to work with. If these two sports cannot figure out a new practice time, they risk the chance of being cut from the athletic program. Changing the start time raises many concerns.

Are the benefits really worth it?