School Start Time Change Gaining Steam?

Administration will look at costs associated with two new, later times for Greenfield High School, where students currently begin class at 7:10 a.m.

Greenfield School Board members appear to be coming around on changing the Greenfield High School start time.

That includes members who initially changed the start time to 7:10 a.m. about 6 years ago, and those who voted against a move to start school later in 2011.

Board members directed administration to find out busing costs associated with either moving the high school start time to 7:30 a.m. and leaving all the rest of the schools as they are now, and moving the high school to 7:45 a.m. and pushing back the Middle School by 12 minutes to 7:30 a.m. and Maple Grove and Elm Dale elementary schools back 30 minutes to 8:45 a.m., a plan proposed in 2011.

The board rejected the latter two years ago because it came with a $210,000 price tag thanks to increased busing costs.

Today’s cost, depending on how much it is, might be worth the price, Board president Bruce Bailey said.

“I’m thinking a 7:30 start time; I’d be for that,” said Bailey, who voted against the change in 2001. “I’d like to see the cost, make sure it’s not extravagant. And we pay it, we pay the cost. We go to 7:30 start time (for the high school) and then we do a district-wide study. … A 7:30 start time puts us in line with a gazillion other schools.”

High school special education teacher Cindy Sibley, a 14-year veteran said changing the school start time at a steep price doesn’t make much sense. She said the district doesn’t have enough guidance councilors — she said having just one at the Middle School was absurd — and believes a police liaison officer at the Middle School would go a long way in sending a message that the district does not tolerate bullying and fighting.

Sibley also said the district has several non-English speaking students and money could be better spent meeting their needs.

“Right now we have so many more needs where $200,000 could go and right now we’re not meeting some of our basic needs,” she said.

Board member Cathy Walsh, who was on the board when it voted to change the high school start time to 7:10 a.m., agreed those are all among the district’s concerns, but said the start-time issue shouldn’t be ignored.

“Where is the research to show that our early start time has had a good impact on our kids?” Walsh asked. “Where’s the research that shows that it ever made our test scores go up, that our kids are doing better as a result of this?

“As a board, we shouldn’t be ignoring that.”

Walsh believes the issue isn’t cut and dried and that it involves many aspects of school scheduling and the delivery of education.

Among the problems associated with the current start time is the tardy rate. The high school had 9,671 instances of first-hour tardies during 2011-12, up from 8,591 in 2010-11. The high school had more than 7,228 in the 2007-08, 08-09 and 09-10 school years after having just 4,086 in 2006-07, when school started at 7:15 a.m.

Resident Dolores Skowronek, a longtime proponent of starting high school later, said the board should do what’s right for students, and do it now.

“Four years ago I approached this board with concerns about the 7:10 start time, and I foolishly assumed that if given information about best practices and research evidence, the board of education would do the right thing and change the schedule,” she said. “I was wrong. … Stop making excuses that have nothing to do with education and stop justifying the early start time.”

KHD January 24, 2013 at 12:40 AM
I think the money could be used much more wisely for education. I like what Teacher Cindy Sibley proposed. " changing the school start time at a steep price doesn’t make much sense. She said the district doesn’t have enough guidance councilors — she said having just one at the Middle School was absurd — and believes a police liaison officer at the Middle School would go a long way in sending a message that the district does not tolerate bullying and fighting. Sibley also said the district has several non-English speaking students and money could be better spent meeting their needs. “Right now we have so many more needs where $200,000 could go and right now we’re not meeting some of our basic needs,” Also on another post, a citizen wrote That Conrad eliminated some positions and would like to see it go back to something like it was. ( Super, HR, Business manager, Curriculum and Instruction, Pupil Services (Director of Special Ed). The new superintendent should have some say in how he or she see's fit to align the administration. This will come with new yearly costs too. To make a decision now on spending $200,000 more yearly on school start times, is rushing it. This is alot of money, and I think the taxpayers ( who will be paying for this) as well as the parents and students should have a say. Put the question to a referendum or a mailing that can be returned. As for all the tardies, come up with a get tough policy. It has been done elsewhere.
Ann January 24, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Having 1 gudiance counselor at the middle school is ridiculous. The middle school is so bad right now - fights, heard last year that there was a 13 year old pregnant, there is one music teacher for over 260 students. The HS could also use more guidance counselors - my child was no where ready/prepared for college with the help they got from the counselor - because they didn't have time in their schedule. Being a parent that didn't have college - didn't know myself who to prepare. These students need to learn responsibility - not if I whine enough everyone will change for me.
Citizen January 24, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I do not think tardies should have any bearing on start times. If you check on the elementaries, who start much later, the parents can't seem to get them to school on time either. I believe changing times should be because it is best for students.
Citizen January 24, 2013 at 03:57 AM
Changing the school times should not have anything to do with tardies. Students can't seem to get to school on time even at the elementary level, (8:45 & 9:15). Change the times because it's best for students. I am certain from what I have seen and heard that the board will do it's best for the students, whether it's changing the schedules or adding the necessary personel to benefit the students.
Lee January 24, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I think the amount of money spent on building the candy shed at the high school was also a lot of money that certainly could have been better spent. I bet you were not fretting about that since it was a Conrad call. A referendum is not needed here. Let the school board do their job. They were elected to do just that, and most of the voter's are tax papers. I will back whatever the school board decides, it is their call. I am sure they will do what is best for the students.
KHD January 24, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Lee, I was not happy about that concession stand at all. I have dealt with Conrad and am glad he is gone. I still think a full audit should be done to see if all the referendum money was spent wisely. Where was the school board to see where all that money went? I think the taxpayers should have a say in this, as taxes will be raised to pay for this or be taken from somewhere else in the budget that could hurt education. I am not sure what you mean by " most of the voters are tax payers" If referring to the school board, they have to live in Greenfield, so sure they are taxpayers. Only SEVEN taxpayers though. Listen to the Teachers also, THEY know what is needed to give these kids a better education and one of them spoke up and said how that money could be used more wisely. When that amount of money is going to be added to the school budget yearly, everyone should have a say. Seems to me, the school board is rushing to a decision.
sportsmom January 24, 2013 at 11:25 PM
If you check who is actually tardy to school, it's not the freshman and sophomores who get a ride or take the bus, it's the juniors and seniors who drive themselves and stop for coffee before they go to school. The line to get into the parking lot at 6:45 is crazy, what it is at 7:00 must be insane. As for the research that suggests there should be a later start time, there is also research that states students perform better in the morning than afternoon. Being a librarian, Mrs. Skowronek should know that you can find research to support any side of an argument. I hope the district decides to spend the tax payer money on programs to increase performance and get more counselors in the buildings.
Really? January 25, 2013 at 01:12 AM
As I sugggested on an earlier thread related to this topic, the large number of tardies represents only 4% of the school population. Please note that this aditional money must come from somewhere, cuts from another area of the budget or a tax increase. This is also not a one time fee. This will be yearly and bus rates are not going down. After 5 years it will have cost an additional $1 million dollars. There are pieces of scientific literature state that any increase in academic achievement is not statistically significant, which can be read as it doesn't make much of a difference. (pardon the non-scientific paraphrasing) Research also says that in order for the change to be meaningful the change needs to be drastic. Moving from 7:10 to 7:30 or 7:45 is not a drastic change. Moving from 7:10 to 8:30/9:00 is more likely the type of change that research calls for. If additional money is to be spent we should be able to see data from schools that have made the changes and the data that shows major improvement has occured. When other initiatives have been implimented at GHS teachers and administrators have made multiple visits to schools to see how these programs have worked. I believe that this is the same type of change that requires due dilligence: which includes scientific data linking improved test scores (significant improvement) as well as communification (and shool vistits) with schools who have made these changes to see what their experiences are. Just a few thoughts.
Dolores Skowronek January 25, 2013 at 02:36 AM
Being a librarian, I can tell you that it is absolutely NOT true that you can find research to support any side of an argument. I can also tell you, and this is me speaking as a professional health science librarian, that I have NEVER found even one credible published research study showing that adolescents benefit from early high school start times or adolescent sleep loss. Absolutely none. On the other hand, you can find plenty of anonymous blogger posts that say all sorts of things – but those are not considered credible or trustworthy sources of information.
KHD January 26, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Look at the article and video that Delores put in the Milwaukee Journal ( Jim Stingl) back in march 2012. http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/greenfield-mom-pushes-later-school-start-for-groggy-teens-qd4fa93-141696123.html There are 88 comments, and from what I count, 14 for later start times, and 36 against. Alot take the same position as I do, learn how to be a good parent, and get your kids to bed on time. Kids can adust just fine, These start times have been going on for a LONG time. Delores would have you believe that all of us and the whole country is a bunch of under achievers, because we started school before 8:00 o-clock. We shouldn't change start times because of irresponsible parents and kids that can't get their butts out of bed, not to mention the cost of $200,000 yearly it will cost the taxpayers. I can say this with confidence, that if the school board spends the money for earlier start times, they will have a much bigger problem on their hands from the taxpayers. People are having a hard time making ends meet as it is. Paychecks have gotten smaller already this year, with more expenses to come. This should not be decided by seven on the board, it should be the citizens, taxpayers, teachers and students of Greenfield that make the call.
Dolores Skowronek January 26, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Hey, KHD it takes a lot of nerve to make assumptions about what I believe or don’t believe. You have never taken the time to talk with me and obviously have not taken the time to familiarize yourself with the science behind this issue. But, that doesn’t surprise me. I also don’t appreciate your comments on another article about my parenting skills. I am a very good mom and that’s why I have great kids and am actually doing something (other than complaining) to improve things in our schools. BTW, I don’t write for the Journal Sentinel – so I don’t have the power to put articles or videos in their publication. Also, just an FYI – 14 plus 36 does not equal 88, my name is spelled Dolores, March should be capitalized, and a lot is two words. Looks like starting school before 8:00 can have repercussions after all.
KHD January 26, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Hey Dolores, how come the video is private now? You dont want people to see how you were trying to put words into your sons mouth? Some of the comments were just that and didn't give an opinion for or against. I also can see how you care so much about the District, when the only time you attend is when school start times are on the Agenda. Then when the subject has been discussed, you leave. You get people from other Districts, not to mention from other parts of the Country to speak in your favor. They should worry about what happens where THEY live. That money can be spent more wisely in other areas. ASK the Teachers. Go look at the comments in the Journal article. Most have no sympathy for kids that can't adjust because they stay up late, and for the coddling parents. According to the studies you post, kids sleep patterns are from 11:00 pm until 8:00 am until they are 24 years old. So they shouldn't start school until 9:00 am and get out about 4:15? Kids would then be going home in the dark. When your kids get in college, are you going to whine to the college that 8:00 am is to early? Wonder why so many other kids have no problem and get good grades? Ahhhhh, maybe they have Parents that crack the whip once in a while. This issue should be put to a referendum, so all have a say.
karen k January 27, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Greenfield has the earliest start time in the state. I think it needs to be adjusted.
sportsmom January 29, 2013 at 05:16 PM
karen k.....by 5 - 15 minutes in most schools. Maybe let's start at 7:20 which is when many districts in the state start, then we wouldn't be "the latest" in the state. My son has never been tardy once, plays on different school sports teams throughout the year, and carries a 3.9 average. Yes, sometimes he's tired in the morning, but he gets through the day and has never complained that school started at 7:10. Dolores....can you explain to me why the ACT and SAT start early in the morning?? Isn't is because students perform better? (That's what I meant when I said "you can find research to support any side of a argument")
Dolores Skowronek January 30, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Sportsmom, I was honestly happy to see your comment about pushing the start time back by 10 minutes. So many people in our community aren’t willing to concede even a little bit – so I appreciated that. However, when I was on the ad hoc start time committee two years ago we had two physicians from the Medical College of Wisconsin give a presentation. Both were board certified in Pediatrics and Sleep Medicine. Very smart women. They told the committee that the start time change would need to be at least 30 minutes for students to benefit from it. Our board of education would be wise to listen to the experts on this issue. As I understand it, most kids at GHS take the ACT - so I looked at their website. Reporting time for the test is usually 8:00. Yes, that’s early, but not as early as 7:10. http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/tips/test-day.html Also, I have a document that DPI sent me in 2010. According to their data - the average high school start time in approximately 2/3 of the districts in Wisconsin is 8:00 or later. The information is 3 years old but should still be fairly accurate.
Mrs Sunny February 04, 2013 at 02:20 AM
The school times need to change. In this economy, we need to work. With Maple Grove starting at 9:15a.m., it is hard to find a job that lets you start at 9:30 or later. The Greenfield schools offer morning daycare at an outrageous price. We need to change the GHS start times and the elementary schools need to start earlier.


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