Later bell times are not the answer

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Recently, the Montgomery County School Board of Education voted to delay school times for students from elementary schools to high schools. They adopted a plan proposed by previous Superintendent Joshua Starr to move middle school and high school start times back by 20 minutes and elementary school times back by 10 minutes.

High school students will attend school from 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Middle schools will begin at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. and elementary schools will go from 8:50 a.m. or 9:15 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. or 3:50 p.m. depending on the tier.

This plan will take effect in the 2015-2016 school year. Will this change positively affect our students? Or will it pose more of a problem than a solution?

Despite the fact of school times being later, it may not satisfy the students’ sleep fulfillment. Starting school later also means it ends later. Students may still follow their regular schedule, making them stay up later to finish homework. They may also use the later start time as an excuse to stay up longer. This creates a cycle of students sleeping later and waking up later, resulting in the same amount of sleep they had before the time change.

The change in bell times may also conflict with the schedules of students, parents and teachers. Many students have responsibilities after school, whether it be sports, jobs, or caring for their younger siblings. Because school will be dismissed at a later time, the end times of these activities will be pushed back, perhaps causing disruptions in the schedules they have followed for a long time.

In addition, the delayed schedule times will cause students, teachers and parents alike to be tangled in rush hour and traffic. Especially for the elementary teachers and parents, who will leave at 3:25 p.m. and perhaps even later, the will feel the full force of rush hour. This will not only cause longer transportation times, but also a higher expense for gas.

Changing bell times is a complex and time consuming process. With no significant evidence of increased sleep and achievement for students, is it actually worth it? Such a costly change with no immediate urgency is foolish.

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