SCPS Considers Later High School Start

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Daianaera Charnell, Staff Writer

Seminole County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin asked the community to consider the idea of pushing back start times for high schools. Dr. Griffin also asked the Business Advisory Board to do a search on the problem of school start times to come up with better ideas.

Dr. Griffin says he needs “different eyes to look at it. If there’s a way to start school later, I’d love to be able to do that.”

Research has shown that teens perform better in school when it doesn’t begin so early in the morning. This outcome has made Dr. Griffin more aware of the value of starting school later. While there may be benefits to pushing start times back, there are a few potential issues. Even though many might like for all schools to start at 8:30 in the morning, it would be quite costly.

If the district pushes all school start times to the same time, that would require more buses to go through all the routes. We currently stagger start times to limit the number of buses and drivers needed, allowing for multiple routes to one driver. Another problem would be that SCPS currently struggles to find bus drivers for the current staggered timings. Some days other transportation department workers, who have required driver certification, have to fill in the routes of the bus drivers who are absent.

Kristine Kraus, an SCPS board member, has said she has heard from some parents who are for the schedule change. Parents have suggested possibly starting at 8:00 a.m., because exhausted teens are finding it difficult to adapt to the early mornings that come with the current staggered times for schools.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need more sleep than adults and even elementary and middle school students.  They need nine to 10 hours a day.  Plus, their biorhythms naturally make them stay up and wake up later.

High school students start school around 7:20 a.m. on average.  Students who catch the bus may need to get to their bus stop as early as 5:30 in the morning.  This could be extremely challenging for teens and adolescents, especially those who have late nights due to heavy course loads or after-school jobs.

Both Dr. Griffin and Kristine Kraus have expressed that at this point they are just seeking input from the community about pushing school times back.