School Starting Times


Isadora Pendygraft, Student Writer

The morning walk to the school bus feels like it’s endless. However, next year, most of our Lower Merion School District students will have plenty of time to make the trek. If everything goes as planned, our school schedules will change in 2024. Welsh Valley students will only start fifteen minutes earlier, but the real changes come in with elementary and high school times. Elementary schools will start twenty minutes later and end at 4:05, causing students to lose ten minutes of school. High schools will start one hour and ten minutes later and lose twenty minutes of school! This decision was made largely because of concerns about students, especially high schoolers’, sleep schedule. However, this plan has revealed a number of problems, including other school’s sleeping times. Many of these problems were found on a school board website and flier, with a number of possible solutions. The source did not make clear if they were going to use these solutions or not.

While the school district is successfully solving the concerns about sleep times, many new problems have arisen for each school level. Elementary schools are the topic of the most concerns, one of the key ones being activities outside of schools. A lot of parents, especially in elementary school, already have to struggle to pick up and drop off their kids on time. Since the new schedule would probably cause before school care to start later, parents who can’t pay for extra care and need to get to work earlier would face many challenges. Also, the later school day will probably exhaust students.

Middle school has the least amount of problems, but it does start and end fifteen minutes earlier. This will cause middle school students to not have the suggested amount of time to sleep, according to the AAP, or the American Academy of Pediatrics. In reality, experts suggest that middle schools should start at 8:30 instead, so while 15 minutes may not seem like a lot, it’s really 30 minutes over the recommended time for students to sleep. So again, even if the time change helps the high school students with their sleep schedules, it’s actually hurting another school system. Not to mention, students will get home earlier and if their parents work in a separate office, they might be alone for longer. Though some students are allowed and able to do this, some people can’t or their parents aren’t comfortable with leaving them for a long period of time. That’s a problem because it conflicts with parental rights to raise a child how they want to.

Even though the high schoolers are the reason for this change, many problems will arise for them as well. The major positive point for these students is that they will have much more time to sleep, something every student will appreciate when they get to high school. However, since high school will lose twenty minutes, valuable learning time will be wasted. Even if the school district decided to take that time off from I/E or lunch, those are educational periods too. Lunch helps energize students, and I/E gives students time to catch up on their work. If schools shorten the time of those periods, it could also be drastic to student’s work, which was the exact thing the school district was trying to prevent. That is important to note, since high school’s job is to prepare students for college. Also, some teachers might decide to assign more homework to make up for the lost twenty minutes, adding even more workload onto the students and causing them to stay up later. Not to mention, the new start times will create a serious problem for working high school students. High school will end fifty minutes later than it used to. This will create problems for teens that need to work after school. Since most businesses won’t change their times of business to accommodate students, many high-schoolers won’t be able to work as many hours as they used to. This will be detrimental to the families who need the money that the student supplies. These start times will also damage programs such as Vo-Tech, an after-school organization that helps prepare students for jobs, and  helps improve the possibilities for their future.

To try and figure out the level of public support, the district sent out a survey for anyone to fill out. Except not everyone was able to fill it out. The survey was only printed in English, which excluded all those who were unable to understand this language or have someone in their family translate for them. These people probably had a lot of concerns, since they already have to navigate without understanding the major language here. And even with primarily English-speakers participating, 24.1% of the people who were polled are “completely dissatisfied” with the changes.

All in all, while the change solves one major problem, it creates several smaller problems. These could even cancel out the benefit that later start times for high schools will cause. It causes problems for childcare, high school workers, and affects other students’ sleep times. Without it, though, high schoolers would have a hard time with their education. Which do you prefer?


Work Cited$file/23-03-13%20-%20FINAL%20HEALTHY%20START%20TIMES%20-%20FINAL%20-%20r.pdf tech#:~:text=One%20option%20for%20some%20students,order%20to%20prepare%20for%20employment.