MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr has introduced a plan to delay school start times in high schools and move middle school start times earlier. In the plan, which would go into effect at the start of the 2015-16 school year, high school start times would be postponed from their current 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., middle school would start ten minutes earlier at 7:45 a.m., and elementary schools would end 30 minutes later at 4 p.m. at the latest.
However, many students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School expressed concern about Dr. Starr’s proposals and the impact on students’ after-school schedules. Freshman Dustin Brown said, “I don’t like the later start times because school will end at three, meaning I have less time to do homework and hang out with friends after school.” Freshman Luis Hernandez suggested that start times should be earlier because “it gives me more time to do whatever I want after school.” BCC students who take part in sports were especially worried about the effects of the change in start times. Sophomore Cooper Moore said that with sports practices from 3 to 5 p.m., “I usually get home at 5:20. The new start times would mean that [the practices] will end an hour later, giving me less time to do homework.”
Nevertheless, some students found the later start time proposals relieving. Freshman Maria Neas observed that “fifty minutes may not sound like lot, but that time allows me to get more sleep and be more prepared for the day.” Freshman Matthew Hemmer agreed, adding that “it gives me more time to sleep, wake up, [and] get ready for school.”
There have been many studies correlating later start times with better grades. A report by MCPS’ start times workgroup estimated that MCPS students get an average of 7.6 hours of sleep per night, an hour and half below recommended amounts of sleep. The report also stated that insufficient sleep can cause “higher rates of obesity and depression, lower levels of motivation and attentiveness, and increased rates of traffic accidents.”
MCPS will hold community forums on start times at Seneca Valley High School on January 6 and at Montgomery Blair High School on February 10.
Article by Max Cohen, MoCo Student staff writer
Graphic by Eva Shen, MoCo Student staff artist