Starting School Later does not have to cost more

The idea that starting school later will cost more money is a myth

The idea that the only way to return to later, healthier school start times is to reroute or add buses at exorbitant costs is a myth. Communities that have put student health and well-being first have found a variety of creative solutions, sometimes even saving money in the process. Below are just a few examples:

  • Santa Rosa County (FL) school district saved millions when it changed to later school start times in 2006. High schools start between 9 and 9:25 am. Elementary schools start at 7:30 am. This is a very highly ranked Florida public school system with competitive (football district champion!) athletic teams.


  • The Wilton (CT) School District maintained its three-tiered start schedule, and achieved a more appropriate starting time for teenagers by flipping the upper elementary start, at 8:15 am, with the middle school/high school start, at 7:35 am. The adolescents gained 40 minutes of time in the morning for sleep.


  • Schools in Moore County, NC created a dual-route bus system in which elementary schools and high schools share buses on separate routes. School officials estimate that the changes will save about $700,000 a year.The plan shifted high school start times 45 minutes later, with school beginning at 9 a.m. and dismissing at 4 p.m.


  • West Des Moines School District in IA found a way to start high schools later by reducing the number of buses needed, saving the district $700,000 annually.


  • In the Mahtomedi School District (MN), high schools found a way to start 35 minutes later by shortening passing periods, another no cost solution. An added bonus: no impact on after-school activities, better attendance, and less student sleeping in class.


  • Jessamine County, KY moved its high school start from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. without adding bus drivers. Middle schools now start at 8:50 a.m. and elementary schools at 8 a.m.


  • Arlington, VA changed high school start times from 7:30 a.m. to 8:19 a.m. without increased expenditure of resources


  • Fairfax County Public Schools in VA have been provided with both low-cost and no-cost options to move their high school start times to 8:00 a.m. or later by an independent consultant.

Other "out-of-box" solutions are out there, but not limited to:

  • Consolidate busing to more efficiently provide service where it is actually being used
  • Providing sidewalks, safer paths and walkways to allow more students the ability to walk or bike to school during daylight hours
  • Shift high school bus times to later and allow for online class periods or "virtual learning"
  • Providing elective bus service, where riders pay for bus service
  • Using public transportation instead of private companies

This list was put together by Start School Later, Inc. based in Annapolis, MD.  Both Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties share Start School Later Chapters with Howard County.  You can check us out at: http://www.startschoollater.net/.

Sign our Howard County petition at:http://tinyurl.com/sslhoco

Yours in Service,

Mark Donovan, Dad...

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joanne Brazinski February 22, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Yes, creative solutions could make this a real win for everyone!
Maribel Ibrahim February 22, 2013 at 11:11 PM
For these and more creative solutions and answers to more common myths about starting schools later, visit: http://startschoollater.net/myths-and-misconceptions.html
D-B February 24, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Schools starting later would be disasterous for some families where both parents work. Right now, my child's bus doesn't pick her up until 9 AM. From there, I rush to work to barely get there by 9:30. If school starts later, we will have no resort but to put our child in before school care, at an extra expense to us. Also, I cannot imagine that her being in before school care would be good for her school performance. As it is, she leisurely reads books and plays with toys until it is time to go to school. At before care, she would not have as leisurely of a pace in the morning. Starting school later will impact my family in a very negative way.
Mark Donovan February 24, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Hello D-B. I'm glad you brought this up. We are not looking for any schools to start after 9:00 though I think it would be great if high Schools started that late. I agree with you, when my kids were in elementary it was hard to drop them off. Actually, I would like to see elementary start at 8:00ish and high school start at 9:00ish with middle in the middle. I realize no schedule is perfect for everyone but we need to stop fighting the biology of our kids if we really want them to do well in school.
Carol Powell March 02, 2013 at 10:03 PM
If the schedules were just reversed; elementary at around 7:45, middle at 8:30 and high school at 9:15 then it would most suit the natural sleep cycles of the kids. As to buses; the 45 minute span would allow most buses to do two or even three routes each morning and afternoon and would, in fact, decrease the need for buses rather than increase it. And everyone would be out by by 4:00 leaving plenty of daylight time, even in winter, for after-school activities, jobs and other things. The school system as it is has never made sense to me since young children are the early risers and need the most parental supervision. Much easier to get the little ones to school and still get to work on time than to have to wait to take the ones who need supervision and struggle to get there.


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