School Start Time Controversy

Stephen Sereyko, Reporter

The question whether we should change our school times has been in the air in Anchorage School District for a while now. While some people love the idea of changing the start time, while others want to keep it the same, which causes conflict and argument.

After community and school surveys and input, the ASD is proposing the following: high schools start at 8:00am; middle schools at 9:30am and elementary schools at 8:45am. This would be quite a shift for middle school, while elementary and high school would only shift by 30 minutes.

They have all the rights to argue over this idea, for there are major pros and major cons. Students, parents and staff also need to consider a students point of view. Piper Hancock said, “It is hard for high school students to go to bed at a reasonable time, so this would be a good opportunity for students to sleep and then do their homework in the morning.”

One of the major reported benefits to starting high school later is that students will be more awake, due to their natural body clocks getting tired later at night. It has actually been scientifically proven that if adolescent students wake up later they will be more attentive and more focused in their classes. Many believe this would result in better grades and a better positive energy coming from both students and teachers.

Unfortunately there are a lot of cons to this idea. West science Bryan Goudreau said, “If everything is going to be bumped back a half an hour then that will also include all the after school activities.” That is a crucial point right there for there are some parents who want their child home at a certain time and aren’t able to get them, causing a major problem with transportation.

“I haven’t had a conference with the other teachers to talk about changing times since the idea hasn’t come true yet,” said Sven Gustafson the head principal of West. A survey went around some of the classes to get responses from both students and teachers at West. From the students there were about 75 people who said “yes” and 58 who said “no” to changing the start times. This shows that high school students want to start school later.

Now, would students use their time to do homework or just sleep in? And that brings us to the same problem we had before, which is to let schools start later or not.

Students and teachers are not the only ones affected by this idea, but the parents as well. Not all students can drive themselves to school so they either take the school bus or ask their parents to drive them. For the students that do get driven by their parents, changing start times could create logistical issues and a new home routine.

Some may wonder what would actually happen if the start times changed, not just for high schools but for the whole entire ASD? Parents and a lot of other businesses would also have to change their times to for most of their workers probably have children and need to drive them to school. 

*As of October 2018, the school board voted to keep the school start times as they are, with no change. The board said there were too many changes being implemented currently and that it is not the right time to add a change in start times to all the ongoing changes.