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Proposing A New Start Time For SPPS

Illustration by Tony Vue
Illustration by Tony Vue

Illustration by Tony Vue

Illustration by Tony Vue

Judy Her, Opinions Editor

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School start times could change not only for Harding High School, but also for other Saint Paul Schools as soon as two years from now, depending on the results of a vote at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Nov. 15.

According to the district website, “The Board of Education has requested the district’s administration to develop a plan for changing school start times for the 2018-19 school year. The goal of the proposal is to move most middle and high schools to a later start time.”

Originally the school board wanted to change the school start time for the 2016-17 school year, but they bumped into some obstacles on the way. According to the district website, one of the obstacles was that their partnership with Metro Transit wasn’t going as well as they thought it would go. They wanted to have kids riding on the metro buses, but because Metro Transit didn’t have enough capacity in their garage to have 20 more buses running on the high school route they couldn’t continue their plan to start school late.

Another obstacle was that if high schoolers started school at a later time, elementary kids would have to start school at an earlier time to balance out the busing, according to the district website. Some parents were concerned about their elementary children having to wake up and go wait for the school buses early. The district is working with Metro Transit to adjust their capacity and is collecting feedback from parents on the new start time.

Some students find the idea of starting school at a later time appealing. Harding senior Chou Xiong likes the idea of waking up and going to school at a later time. “Students spend all night doing homework, and going to school super early will not make their brain function well, and it is scientifically proven,” said Chou. “We have homework and students need time to sleep.”

If he got the chance to come to school at a later time, he would make sure that he had enough sleep, ate breakfast every morning and came to school on time everyday, Chou added.

Other students, including Harding freshman Mee Thao, disagree with starting school at a later time. She believes that doing that will only make students stay up later. Mee is a gamer, and she likes to come home early from school to game before she starts on her homework and studies. “If you come home at like 2:00 to like three, then that’s better than coming home at like four and five and then only getting like one hour to game and the rest is just study and do homework which is kinda lame,” said Mee.

She’ll feel unmotivated to come to school if school started at a later time because she doesn’t like going home late, Mee added.

Students are not the only ones who have thoughts about the new start time. Erik Brandt, Harding English Teacher and IB Coordinator, is all in favor of changing school start times. “I’ve taught at Harding for 21 years, and every single one of those years I feel like school starts too early,” said Mr. Brandt. “Period one, so many kids are still asleep.”

Mr. Brandt has taught and lived in a bunch of places around the world, and he said he feels that in other countries the way their students get to school is more flexible than our country. “Everywhere else in the world kids figure it out,” said Mr. Brandt. “Parents take them to school, they bike to school, they walk to school, they take public transit. If they could figure it out, kids in Saint Paul could.”

He said he feels that having the students be able to utilize Metro Transit buses would be very beneficial and that the school buses are connected to start time. For Mr. Brandt, if he were able to come to school at a later time, he would be able to spend more time with his children. “Particularly my ones that go to elementary school because now I say goodbye to them while they’re just waking up, or I don’t say goodbye to them because they’re still asleep and that makes me sad,” said Mr. Brandt.

The Board will be voting Nov. 15 on whether to change school start times or not. Students or parents who want to be heard can go to the Saint Paul Public Schools website and give them feedback on the new start time.

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Proposing A New Start Time For SPPS