Possible time change next year

Schoolboard considers new start times across the township


Graphic by Leah Newhouse and Andrew Tapp

The Perry Township School Board is considering changing the start times of schools. They are exploring the option of moving to a three-tier-system as early as next school year.

Madison Gomez, Reporter

Walking outside at 6:20 a.m., waiting for a ride to school, tired junior Mesach Rose is ready to get on the bus.

“I just wish it would hurry up,” Rose said. “I’m already tired and it’s cold.”

The bus arrives, peace and quiet instills, and Rose puts in his headphones. He leans up against the window, ready to get a few last minutes of rest, but then he hears them. The middle schoolers, that he thinks are loud and annoying, board the bus to disrupt those last few precious minutes of rest before his tiresome day ahead of him. Little did Rose know that they could be off on his bus ride to SHS next year.

When the school board votes next month on the plan of a three-tiered bus system, it could mean a new transportation schedule for all bus-riding students in Perry Township. The change is being considered because, according to chalkbeat.org, Perry Township is in the second-fastest growing school district in Indiana. Although doctors recommend that students in high school start at a later time, the school board is considering a new busing schedule that would have them start even earlier than they do now.

If the current proposal is accepted, the high schools would start at 7:15 and get out at 2:05. For the second tier, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Glenns Valley elementaries and the middle schools, the start time will be 8:10 and get out at 3. The rest of the elementary schools, the third tier, would start at 9:05 and get out at 3:55.

The bottom two tiers would be able to get the adequate amount of sleep needed for an adolescent. While the high schoolers would lose 10 minutes.

“Experts say their brains stay in sleep mode till at least 8 a.m.,” wrote Valerie Strauss in her Washington Post article about doctors urging later school start times for teenagers. The one of the reasons why the high school is not being moved to the second or third tier is because elementary students cannot be dropped off until there is a caretaker or guardian visibly at the house. The buses will repeat their route to ensure the children’s safety, but if the guardian is still not there, they are taken back to their elementary. This would create a problem, the school board said, because there may not be buses for the tier below the elementary to take students home.

Junior Levi Longshore likes the aspect of the change that middle school and high schoolers will be separated, so he wouldn’t mind if he has to start earlier because of it. Sophomore Haley Nagel believes that teenagers should be able to sleep in longer since there might be complications that stop them from sleeping. She pointed out that many students have jobs, after-school activities, homework and parental obligations that prohibit students from sleeping the recommended time.  

The National Sleep Foundation found that, “One way to get more sleep is to start school later. Teens’ natural sleep cycle puts them in conflict with school start times.”

Ken Mertz, president of the school board, said that the board has considered the fact that science is telling them to move the start times later because of how much sleep teens need. He says that there’s a possibility that students may take advantage of the later start time and go to bed later, Mertz pointed out. So their whole purpose of moving to benefit health could be useless.

The school board and the department of transportation collaborated on the plan initially and then created a Google Site to inform the public of what may be happening. Gathering 225 comments on the site, parents have been expressing their concerns to the school board.

“Most of the emails (I receive) are from misinformed parents,” Mertz said. “It’s not a start time issue; it’s more of a transportation issue.”

As of the school board work meeting on Jan 17., they are still taking into account of the factors like financially concerned parents, students’ health and the increased enrollment among the many things.

Whatever may happen, as Mertz said, “you can’t always please everybody.”