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VWSD school start times conflict with working hours

Published 11:00 am Friday, May 16, 2014

With the Vicksburg Warren School District eyeing a shift in school starting times one question remains unanswered. How is a single working parent supposed to get their child to school and get to work on time? The VWSD is considering elementary classes beginning at 8 a.m., junior high classes at 8:50 a.m. and high school classes at 9 a.m. Schools would dismiss at 2:50 p.m., 3:40 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. respectively. Elementary students could be dropped off starting at 7:25 whereas junior high and high school students could be dropped off 25 minutes before classes begin. David Campbell, assistant superintendent for the VWSD, said the proposals are based on a slew of research that includes benefits ranging from increased academic performance to reduced risk of obesity and traffic accidents. “As we are finalizing our school times for the upcoming school year, our principals reviewed the research which revealed that the health, safety, and equity benefits to starting junior high and high school at time more in sync with the sleep needs of students are irrefutable,” he said in a statement. In multiple studies cited from New York University, the University of Minnesota and Brown University, biologists suggested an 8:30 a.m. start time for junior high and high school students. “Some benefits of a later start of the school day for junior high and high school include improved alertness, memory, attention, and cognitive processing skills, improved academic performance, reduced tardiness, truancy, and drop-out rates … reduced depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, reduced risk of obesity, eating disorders, and improved mood and impulse control,” Campbell said. Elementary students, on the other hand, tend to be more highly functioning in the mornings. Campbell said the proposed changes for elementary school hours are aimed at addressing those differences. “Because elementary students learn better earlier in the day, we are restructuring the elementary school day to benefit academic achievement,” he said. Will the reality of life in our modern society, where businesses open at 8 a.m. and expect their employees to be punctual, conflict with the district’s ideal utopian start times?