To the Bellevue School District

The district continues to ignore the overwhelming majority of the students when it comes to school start times next year.

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As talked about in this year’s second issue of the Barque, on Oct. 6, 2015 the Bellevue School Board voted to approve an 8:30 a.m. start time for the 2016-2017 school year. No one will feel the effect more than students who participate in after school sports or activities.

Not all students fit into the same prototypical mold. Some students go to bed at 12 a.m. every night and some try to get to bed as early as possible. Some live closer to school than others, and we all have varying after school activities. By pushing back the school start time we may not actually being getting that extra hour of sleep because we’ll still have the same amount of homework and will be up for the same amount of time.

The only people who I’ve seen support this change are people who have zero period, or the people who are consistently sleeping in and walking in 15 minutes late to their first period class every day. In fact, of 230 students surveyed a whopping 70 percent said they disapproved of the start time because it affects their after school activities.

Often times our practices revolve around our coach’s schedule. Many of the coaches at Bellevue have other jobs or work at Bellevue, so will practices now have to be before school? Having practices later could have big effects on our coaches who also have busy days, and probably don’t want to start practice an hour later.

Getting out of school at 3:30 p.m. will no longer allow students a break after school  (if they had one at all) and will allow less time for homework and studying because of our time devoted to sports and other activities.

While there is good research that support that extra hour of sleep, I don’t understand why it is necessary. Our school has high academics as it is. If we were really too tired and dysfunctional during our first and second periods, we probably would have slept in and not come to school. Don’t get me wrong athletes need sleep, but the same amount of homework plus one less hour to do it doesn’t help anything.

How is the district going to modify sports and after school activities to accommodate the one extra hour of sleep they’re giving us? Traffic will be worse by the time we get out of school and practice, not to mention students who cannot drive or have siblings with other commitments will be stranded or not able to get to practice. When it’s cold and rainy, people don’t want to be out practicing an hour later in the dark. We also don’t want to sleepwalk through a practice at six in the morning.

Overall, I understand the research that supports the change, but the inconveniences and changes have the potential to cause bigger problems than before. Students’ voices must be equally heard and respected as much as the educators’: at the end of the day, the students are the ones responsible for their sleep and their education.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for the thoughtful editorial about the later high school start time. Speaking on behalf of myself as an individual school board member, I want to acknowledge that we have heard a wide variety of opinions. We have heard both from students who feel the change to a later start time will be disruptive and from (more) students who feel it will enhance their high school years.

    In order to solicit student opinion, last year the district conducted a survey in which we received more than 3000 responses from students. Among high school students who responded, almost twice as many students were in favor of a later start time as were opposed (58.8% vs. 34.4%). Among middle school students, the preference was even stronger (68.7% vs. 25.1%). Parents were overwhelmingly in support of the change, with 81.6% supporting it. You can see the report that was presented to the school board, including the survey results, here: http://www.bsd405.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/High-School-Start-Time-Report-to-the-Superintendent.pdf.

    Many students gave comments at board meetings, and many sent emails to the board. Between the survey data, board meeting comments, and emails, I feel that student voice has been considered.

    I agree with the comment that the change is not needed to support academics in Bellevue’s schools. The primary motivation for the change from my point of view was the benefit to social/emotional health. We received numerous comments from medical professionals, including mental health professionals. I personally found the later start time’s support for mental health to be the most compelling issue.

    The board and the district as a whole are aware that many changes will be needed to adjust to the later start time. The district has tried to address those changes in the “Implementation Plan,” which you can read here: http://www.bsd405.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/High-School-Start-Time-Implementation-Plan.pdf.

    The decision to move to a later start time was finalized at a recent board meeting. However, there is still time to fine tune implementation plans to minimize issues created by the later start time. I would encourage students to read the implementation plan. If you have suggestions about how the district can minimize negative consequences of the later start time, the board would appreciate hearing your ideas at board@bsd405.org.

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