Monday, December 16, 2019
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Howard Co. considers new high school start times

The school board for Howard County Public Schools in Maryland heard a report at its Feb 20 meeting from a committee charged, a year ago, with determining the impacts of starting high schools in the county not at 7:25 but at 8:15, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Idea: Sleep on the bus (Photo: iStockPhoto)

Everyone agrees, including US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, that high school start times of 7:25 AM are too early: teens fall asleep more in class, they have more car accidents, and they come to school late more often than when their first class doesn’t start until after 8:00.

But then, there’s the likelihood that families will be disrupted if any change to the start time occurs too quickly and doesn’t give people time to adjust their schedules. And, oh, I almost forgot, the district says getting high school students to school 50 minutes later will add $20 million to the district’s expenses.

Last year, we reported on a similar situation in Anne Arundel County, where high schools start class at 7:17 AM, the earliest in the state. I refer you to that report for pertinent research, the facts from which have been well established for several decades and are not in dispute in Howard County.

However, Superintendent Renee Foose says she wants to take it slow. “As we got into this, we were amazed at what we were finding. It was like peeling back layers of an onion, one layer after the next. We want to do it right. We want a model that’s sustainable, that’s student-friendly and family-friendly.” Among things to consider:

  • pre-kindergarten
  • after-school programs
  • athletics
  • jobs
  • child care

“Every single one of our families will be impacted by this, and not all in a positive way,” Ms Foose was quoted as saying. “We need to be slow, we need to be thorough.”

The committee has no deadline for completing its work and advising the school board about later start times for the district’s 13 high schools, including one middle/high school.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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