By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
The Everett School District, which was considering starting the school day earlier for thousands of high school students in September, has decided that the best option is no change.
“Knowing how important it is that families have that information before the end of the year, we’re going to go ahead with the same start times … and have another assessment next year,” Mary Waggoner, school district spokeswoman, said on Wednesday.
The district was mulling three schedule changes: High schools could have started as early as 7:10 a.m., some elementary schools as late as 9:25 a.m., and middle school as early as 7:10 a.m. or as late as 8:25 a.m.
The changes were aimed at saving the school district an estimated $163,000 in transportation costs.
However, some parents objected to the proposal, saying 7:10 a.m. was too early. Some parents of elementary school students said the later start would conflict with their work schedules.
The school district had previously said it would wait until the Legislature made a decision on public school funding before deciding next year’s school schedules.
Lawmakers are now in their second overtime session trying to hammer out budget issues. The debate potentially could last into summer.
Kim Guymon, who leads the Everett School Board Project, a citizens group, and who recently announced as a school board candidate, was among the parents who had raised concerns about the early start time for high school students.
Public school districts across the nation are switching to later start times for high schools. Researchers have found teenagers are more alert and ready to learn when classes start between 8:30 and 9 a.m., due to adolescents’ biological wake and sleep rhythms.
Guymon said some parents told her they were pleasantly surprised by the district’s decision not to change schedules. The district “was pretty serious about changing it,” she said.
Jeff Russell, school board president, said he was happy to hear that the school district’s administrators didn’t feel it needed to make a change to school schedules. “It’s less disruptive for families,” he said.
“I know it’s an important issue for a lot of folks as they plan their work schedules and their day-care schedules,” Russell said.
Russell said the school board may yet consider whether the district could move toward later start times for high schools during the upcoming school year.
Any change, if approved, would take at least two years to implement, he said.
“We would never do it in isolation,” he said. “We’d want to do it in consultation with other districts so there would be some coordination of athletic and activity schedules with our partners.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org