AP NEWS

Anacortes changes school start times

February 24, 2019

ANACORTES — For many students in the Anacortes School District, the school day will begin at a new time next year. The Anacortes School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to change the start times at four of its schools by a half hour, a move it hopes will allow high school and middle school students to get more sleep. “The physiology is it’s not good for kids to start at 7:30 a.m.,” Superintendent Mark Wenzel said. “That’s the science.” Next school year, Fidalgo Elementary School’s start time will change from 8:15 to 9 a.m., the middle school’s start time will change from 7:30 to 8 a.m., and the start times at Anacortes and Cap Sante high schools will move from 7:30 to 8:05 a.m. All elementary schools will now start about the same time. “We’re here for the benefit of the students,” board member Karl Yost said. The decision to change start times comes after a

long process

first started with a parent petition in 2017 that asked the district to explore later start times at the high school in order to more align with how teens’ brains work. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, later start times more accurately reflects teens’ natural sleep cycles, thus leading to better grades, improved attendance and lower levels of obesity and depression. Ideally, the organization states, middle and high school students should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. — an hour later than the current start times at the middle school and high schools. Because of logistical constraints, the district said an hour change was not feasible, and the 30-minute change is better than nothing. “Any more sleep opportunity toward that optimum is a positive difference,” Wenzel said. While the board made the decision unanimously, it was not met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Members of the district’s transportation department, namely bus drivers, expressed concerns about what the changes might mean for their hours and the safety of students. “Our drivers have been fired-up about this,” driver Rick Ryan said. The change, Ryan said, will mean fewer routes — and therefore hours — for drivers, which could cause drivers to quit and increase driver turnover in the midst of a nationwide bus driver shortage. Drivers fear that could negatively impact students. The district, Wenzel said, will look at ways to mitigate the loss of hours for its drivers. After two community surveys, which gathered input from parents, students and teachers, about 71 percent were in favor of the change, Wenzel said. Board members stated at Thursday’s meeting that overall, their job is to do what’s best for students.

ANACORTES — For many students in the Anacortes School District, the school day will begin at a new time next year.

The Anacortes School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to change the start times at four of its schools by a half hour, a move it hopes will allow high school and middle school students to get more sleep.

“The physiology is it’s not good for kids to start at 7:30 a.m.,” Superintendent Mark Wenzel said. “That’s the science.”

Next school year, Fidalgo Elementary School’s start time will change from 8:15 to 9 a.m., the middle school’s start time will change from 7:30 to 8 a.m., and the start times at Anacortes and Cap Sante high schools will move from 7:30 to 8:05 a.m.

All elementary schools will now start about the same time.

“We’re here for the benefit of the students,” board member Karl Yost said.

The decision to change start times comes after a long process first started with a parent petition in 2017 that asked the district to explore later start times at the high school in order to more align with how teens’ brains work.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, later start times more accurately reflects teens’ natural sleep cycles, thus leading to better grades, improved attendance and lower levels of obesity and depression.

Ideally, the organization states, middle and high school students should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. — an hour later than the current start times at the middle school and high schools.

Because of logistical constraints, the district said an hour change was not feasible, and the 30-minute change is better than nothing.

“Any more sleep opportunity toward that optimum is a positive difference,” Wenzel said.

While the board made the decision unanimously, it was not met with overwhelming enthusiasm.

Members of the district’s transportation department, namely bus drivers, expressed concerns about what the changes might mean for their hours and the safety of students.

“Our drivers have been fired-up about this,” driver Rick Ryan said.

The change, Ryan said, will mean fewer routes — and therefore hours — for drivers, which could cause drivers to quit and increase driver turnover in the midst of a nationwide bus driver shortage. Drivers fear that could negatively impact students.

The district, Wenzel said, will look at ways to mitigate the loss of hours for its drivers.

After two community surveys, which gathered input from parents, students and teachers, about 71 percent were in favor of the change, Wenzel said.

Board members stated at Thursday’s meeting that overall, their job is to do what’s best for students.