Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Furor Over Start Time

Several months ago, word got to our faculty that a group of parents was working to move our school's start time (and hence finish time) 30 minutes later in the day. They did a fairly decent job of poring over research and late last year (month?) gave a presentation to the faculty. The presentation was clearly biased towards a later start time, but that was to be expected since that's what they wanted. They anticipated many challenges to their proposal and addressed each of them. A couple of "community forums" were held after school hours so that interested parties could raise their points, but they were sparsely attended.

After that first presentation to the teachers, a straw poll showed faculty support for moving the start time to be about 60%.

In mid-January the teachers union president came to give a presentation. He wanted to explain how making this change involved the union, the district, and their negotiation teams. He also mentioned that when making such decisions, a mere majority often isn't a good idea; he recommended a 75% majority. One of our teachers (correctly) pointed out that we couldn't get 75% of our faculty to agree on summer vacation, so the threshold was moved to only 55%. I believe this number was chosen because of the aforementioned straw poll.

Discussions about the change took place in the halls, in the staff lounges, via email, you name it. I questioned why only teachers got a vote on this, and not our administrative, clerical, custodial, or food service staffs. We took informal polls of students and parents and those, while not scientific, were overwhelmingly against the change. Some staff members thought a vote on the change was being forced on us in a time crunch. The issue was fast becoming contentious, and the vote was held.

The start time change failed, 57%-43%.


Dean Baird said...

Pros, Cons, and Rebuttals presented in our decision-making process. Includes results from surveys, polls, and the vote.

Anonymous said...

How did *you* vote, and why?

I've got a *lot* of flexibility in my schedule, so I read about these things with interest (growing up I was *not* a morning person ... a later start would have been great), but can't really relate as a working adult.

-Mark Roulo

socalmike said...

Sparsely, not sparcely. Sorry to be a grammar/spelling Nazi, Darren.

Darren said...

Good catch, thank you.

Darren said...

When I'm elected World Dictator, school will go from 10-5. I've never been a morning person. I voted against this proposal for a variety of reasons, the most important of which was because it screwed things up with my son and me. You see, he goes to a different high school, which would still be on the current schedule, and on days when I pick him up to come to our house, he already waits at least a half-hour for me at school. This new schedule would have him wait an hour. There are other reasons, but that was the most important one.

If our entire district considered making this change, I'd be all for it--the later, the better.

Anonymous said...

Darren: "When I'm elected World Dictator, school will go from 10-5."

I will remember this when it is time to vote. I may vote for you more than once :-)

-Mark Roulo

momof4 said...

Some schools with later start times also offer a "zero hour" option, prior to the first period. The school my NJ relatives attended had this option and both kids took advantage of it. I also know that Edina, MN (Twin Cities suburb)is very proud of the fact that it was the first to offer an 0830 start, because "teenagers can't function well in the early morning". They manage to ignore the fact that their zero hour offerings are very popular, even in a school where both the swimmers and the hockey players tend to practice before school, both during their school seasons and during the rest of the year with their club teams. I think I've heard that lots of the full-time tennis players do the same and I know that both the boys' and girls' soccer varsities have early-AM conditioning sessions.

Darren said...

The army does a pretty good job of getting 17-19-yr-olds to do things at 5:30 in the morning :)

Anonymous said...

Generally ignored in the debate is the fact that effective functioning in the early morning is much more likely if the kids (or anyone) go to bed at a reasonable hour. Staying up until the small hours playing video games, using social media etc. does make early mornings less productive.