Racine school district proposes earlier start time for high schools

Posted at 6:10 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 19:25:34-05
RACINE -- High school students in Racine may have to start setting their alarm clocks earlier after the school district proposed moving up start times. 

The plan was presented during Monday's board meeting and would change the high school start time from 7:15 a.m. to 7 a.m. 

Even though it's a difference of 15 minutes, parents, teachers and students are still concerned. 

"It's chaotic already in the morning," said Jennifer Williams who has two children. Her daughter is in high school and involved in many extracurricular activities. 

"It's a little hard you know getting them up and rushing them out the house," Williams said. "It will be hard trying to get them up even earlier." 

So much concern was raised, a district spokeswoman said even though the plan originally was for the 2017-18 school year, officials have decided to postpone the idea to allow for further discussion. 

That same spokeswoman said if anything, the changes would take place for the 2018-19 school year. 

"I think the older kids have to sleep in the morning to get their brains going," said Mike George who has three students at Park High School in Racine. "They all are in sports so by the time they get to sports they're drained." 

Angelina Cruz is the president of the Racine Education Association and said when the district approached her with this plan, she received a lot of concerned responses from teachers. 

"The proposal was generally moving us in the wrong direction," Cruz said. "The major concern from teachers is that it's developmentally inappropriate to start high school students at that early a time." 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high school students should sleep between 8.5 and 9.5 hours every night. 
If they don't, it can lead to weight gain, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, drug use and poor academic performance. 
"Generally speaking, high school kids are not the most alert that early in the morning so teaching and learning is difficult to do with kids that aren't fully awake," Cruz said.
That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2014, urging middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. 
Something Park High School Ninth Grader Ta'Kaya Yarbrough said she'd definitely support. 
"Yeah, give me more time to sleep," she said. 

The school district said the proposed change would allow for more professional development days for teachers and help the district bus more students. 

The district also said some parents and students wanted an earlier time so students could get to after-school jobs or activities on time. 

The proposal also included a change in schedule for elementary and middle schools. Under the proposal, elementary schools would start at 9 a.m. and end at 4:11 p.m. and middle schools would start at 8 a.m. and end at 3:26 p.m. 

As a comparison, most Milwaukee Public Schools high schools start between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.