District 20 Proposes New Start and End Times for the 2023-24 School Year

With a new year brings new change. That is no exception to the 2023-24 school year as the start times for schools district-wide have had new times proposed. The times vary depending on grade level. The high school start time would change to 8:10 a.m., as opposed to the previous 7:45 a.m. start time, and will go until 3:15 p.m. Elementary schools within the district would be changed to a 7:30 a.m. start time and will wrap up at 2:30 p.m. Finally, middle schools (with the exception of Challenger who will go from 8:20 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.) would start at 8:50 a.m. and end at 3:55 p.m. 

Students at Pine Creek were asked to share their thoughts on these new start/end times. “I like the changes that have been implemented for middle and high school,” says Smith Barrionuevo (10). “The extra time to sleep or get ready in the morning is pretty nice.” Barrionuevo is hesitant however, wondering if the new start times will also bring some unwanted issues to the morning commute’s traffic. Emmett Smith (10), shares a similar opinion with Barrionuevo, saying, “I [Smith] like the idea of being able to sleep in a little bit more.” Although the ending times for schools have changed as well as the starting times, students do not seem to mind beginning their day a little bit later “The 7:45-7:50 start times are a joke,” Maxim Gudanis (9) said. Cooper Alvarado (9) said that “this change is nice, just getting home later is a little bit of an inconvenience with traffic.” Barrionuevo has decided to embrace the new changes, saying, “I’ll take the extra 25 minutes to sleep in or get ready, and maybe do some homework I still have.”

Students that play club sports whose teams practice after school, or those who partake in an after-school activity can be and are affected. Students like Kyle Willis (9) said that “It’s very annoying because we are at home less after school now.” Smith says that despite the new change giving him more time to sleep, “after school clubs will finish later and I [Smith] will be walking home or leaving school when it’s dark out more frequently.” 

On the Academy School District 20 website, it records multiple purposes for the time changes. One of these being to increase teenagers’ health through allowing more time to sleep. “The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called insufficient sleep for teens a public health issue and recommends middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., because it supports overall teen health, alertness and safety” wrote the Superintendent of Schools for Academy District 20, Tom Gregory. “A study by the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota showed when school starts later, teens get more sleep, which leads to better physical and mental health, including decreased rates of depression and anxiety and less caffeine and substance abuse.” Other reasons for prompting the time changes include allowing more time for buses to pick up students and allowing for, “possible expansion of intra-district bus services during the school day in 2024-25.”  These new time changes may be frustrating for some students, however, for others, it will be a great opportunity to catch up on schoolwork or get some extra, well-deserved rest.

Although most high school students are ok with the change, many parents are angered at the new time changes. Some parents have decided to take a stand and create a poll on the website change.org, petitioning against the new time changes. An Academy District 20 board meeting will be held on February 2, 2023 where the public comments are expected to address these concerns.