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Keep Start Times The Same

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Board Member Andy Garber

School start times have recently been controversial at Wheeling Park High School. Starting school later could negatively affect students rather than helping them, and many students and Ohio County board members alike argue against this new change.

A poll on the Park Press Instagram was run asking students what times they wanted school to start. The options were 7:30 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., and 9:00 a.m. 82 students responded to it. Out of those responses, 39 votes were in favor of 7:30 a.m. That is 48% of responses. This shows that almost half of students wanted to keep the start time the same.

A core reason why students want to keep the start time is because of extracurricular activities. Students who participate in extracurriculars stay from one to three hours after school. Many struggle to finish homework after school and find the motivation for school after a long day. Starting later would push everyone’s schedule back. Between showers, dinner, and homework, students would get to sleep much later than they do now. Jobs would also be affected by this change. People who have to be at work after school would have to change their schedules or leave early. This cuts on learning time and negatively affects students who need to work for their families.

Mr. Garber, a Board of Education member, tells us the considerations against changing the times. The administration originally presented the Board of Education three scenarios: Everyone starts and ends 30 minutes later​, have a company explore our transportation system, or flipping the times to have the elementary students start first and the high schoolers start last.

However, even moving everything back by 30 minutes wouldn’t work. “All athletic contests and extra-curriculars would be affected,” said Garber. “Students might have to miss several classes to leave during school hours to travel for away games because other districts have not changed their time. Students that work after school would lose time at work. We have several programs at WPHS that the students are doing internships during the school day and they would be delayed. Scheduling for doctor’s appointments after school would be tougher.”

Changing times would also cause problems with the buses. Currently, Ohio County buses work on a three tier system. the buses pick up the high school students first, then middle school, and then elementary school.

Based on the first bus study, “We would need to purchase 16 additional buses and drivers,” said Garber. “Some of the runs would only be partial runs and not require a full time driver. We also can’t house that many buses in our existing bus garage in Fulton and would need to find additional space. The cost projections for making all the adaptations after adding additional drivers, buses, mechanics, fuel, oil, bus parts, insurance, bus routing software would run $3.6 million the first year and an annual increase of over $2 million for the following years.”

While this estimation of cost is constantly in flux, switching the elementary and high school times would also pose problems. “Less time would be spent with family after school due to homework and now possibly late night extra-curricular activities,” said Garber. “All after school extracurriculars would be pushed back. High school students would be going to sleep later. Those high school students that serve as latchkey parents will now be arriving home after the elementary and middle school students so parents would need to make arrangements for the younger siblings. We would have a much greater need for after school day care.”

Students also express their objections for later start times.

“People who do sports and after school activities should be able to go home and rest, eat and then go to your activity,” said Gianna Mills, a freshman. “You don’t have to go straight to do whatever you want to do  after school. Getting out early is the best thing ever because if you have siblings and you need to pick them up, getting out later is not going to help that.”

“Since the start times have  been at 7:30 a.m. forever, the students have adjusted to that time coming to school,” said Mo Smith, a junior. “If we would change it, that would change everybody’s normal schedule.”

“If the start times are pushed later, all I’m going to do is go to bed later,” said Drew Tarrant, a freshman. “It will give me less time in the afternoon to do what I want and to get homework finished.”

There are many reasons why the start times should stay the same. Changing them would pose a great problem to students and the community. In the end, it would do more harm than good. Keep up with the board meeting agendas to stay updated on the issue.

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Lucrezia Santini
Lucrezia Santini, Staff Writer
  • Journalism I
  • Freshman
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  • I can speak Italian.
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