The administrators of both Burlingame High School and the other schools within the San Mateo Union High School District have devoted time to exploring the possibility of pushing back the start of the school day in accordance with research and student opinions.
The intent of school officials to explore this proposition is not without precedent. According to Burlingame Principal Paul Belzer, the board “has asked administrators at all schools to consider and look into the possibility of altering the start times.” Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high schools should start school at 8:30 a.m. or later. As reported in a 2012 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, less than one in five high schools started school aligned with these recommendations. Among them is Burlingame, where first period begins at 8:00 a.m., thirty minutes prior to the times recommended.
Belzer told the B that he “has seen the research and has reached out to students through the student council” and that he is “sympathetic to the desires of people on both sides.”
Freshman Alec Abramson is not in support of changing start times arguing that "Later start times would prevent after school sports from taking place, a crucial asset in fostering a community here at school."
Principal Belzer is aware of this, but he is “exploring other options that will maintain the level of athletics that are present on our campus.” Permanent lights at district campuses are key to maintaining the times available to teams to conduct practices.
The Daily Journal reported that “district officials have discussed spending between $6 million and $8 million to install permanent lights at athletic fields on the campuses of Aragon, San Mateo, Capuchino, Hillsdale and Mills high schools.” Burlingame has permanent field lights that could allow sports teams to practice later in order to adapt to later end times.
A decision regarding the implementation of later start times will have been made by the board during their meeting on November 17, the day this article was sent to print.