School board considering starting later next year

Last school year the start time was changed by five minutes, it was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. The Assistant Superintendent Jon Milleman has been working on two proposals for the school board regarding a possible change in start time for the 2019 school year.

“I presented them with basically two scenarios: one essentially staying in the same order we’re in now where high school goes first during the day, and then another scenario where high school goes second in the sequence and basically you’d change places with the elementary,” Milleman said.

Milleman has been conducting research on the effects of a later start. The positive data shows that a later start might: increase student attendance and decrease the number of tardies, create more alertness in class, students self report less falling asleep and translate to safer driving because adolescents are more alert.

“Research is pretty overwhelming, adolescents go through biological changes, but there is brain physiological research that indicates you as high school students between the ages of 12 to 18 are more alert in the morning,” Milleman said. “You’re more receptive to new information around 8:30 a.m. and after than extremely early in the morning.“

When making a decision like switching the high school start time with the elementary start time, the school board has a lot of things they have to consider. Transportation, the community ceasing its challenges and traffic patterns are all kept in mind with a decision this extensive. Milleman has looked into how the change would affect bus drivers largely, in order to make transportation work he mentioned it would require shortening the high school day.

“One of the things that might have to change about the order and I shared this with the board publicly as well; in order to make the transportation work it would require shortening the high school day by up to 10 minutes, so you’d have a 3:25 p.m. dismissal, rather than a 3:30 p.m. dismissal,” Milleman said.

Milleman mentioned how the topic of changing the high schools start time has been brought up before, but it has been put off because attendance boundaries became inefficient. For example the district had students who went to Nora, but lived on the southwest part of the district. With the opening of Clearwater Elementary it gave the board a chance to look at changing bus routes.

“That gave us the opportunity, to look at changing bus routes. It was a perfect time to say ‘Oh ok we’re changing bus routes anyway,’” Milleman said.

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