It is better to be progressive than stagnant?


Earlier this month, The Burlingame B staff discussed the pressing debate about changing the start time of the school day forward 30 minutes. It quickly became apparent, after a lengthy exchange of ideas, that our opinion was split. However, we were all able to agree that the problem at hand is larger than just changing the start time. We would like to see further changes made to the school schedule to aid sleep deprived and stressed students. Below, you can read the varied opinions of The Burlingame B staff.

YES     Charlie Jones, Editor-in-Chief & Melissa Milligan, Staff Reporter

The issue of sleep deprivation and high levels of stress among students will not be entirely solved by moving the start time forward 30 minutes. However, the proposal serves as a starting point from which further changes can be made. As a result of this proposed adjustment to the schedule, some students would have an extra 30 minutes to sleep every night. The proposed change may not seem like a substantial amount of time for our sleep cycles, yet it will have a long-term impact.

Some students feel that the staff does not always address their concerns. It is impossible to please 1500 students, yet this proposed change is an important indicator of the administration and school district’s willingness to take strides to meet the needs of Burlingame students to help them achieve. We should appreciate this effort to lighten our stress load. Under the heavy anvil of school excellence, students seek out remedies to de-stress on a daily basis. But the many sleepless nights spent studying and completing homework assignments often prevent them from doing that. The administration has witnessed the struggles students face, and they want to relieve some of this burden. The issue of stress is much larger than just sleep habits. Time management is something that many high school students struggle with. It is important that we do not stop making changes after the start time.

Many students will feel the effects of a half an hour more sleep. Studies have shown that a correlation exists between test scores and hours of sleep teens get per night. Dr. Stijn Baert is a researcher at Ghent University who claims to have found that “students who generally got a good night’s sleep performed better on exams” (Huffington Post). With a later start time, students will be more on time and have more energy in class.

There is a correlation between lack of sleep and increased risk of mental illness. While an extra 15-30 more minutes of sleep may not have a severe impact on how students feel throughout the day, it can help in preventing a mental illness. Because of the close link between sleep deprivation and mental illness, it is vital to student health that the school administration works towards adjusting our schedule.

No matter how small the time change might be, and even if it means only a slight increase in test scores, it is worth the implementation. Also, a later start time would make the transition from middle school to high school much easier. Transitioning from middle school to high school is difficult enough, so anyway that the school can make this smoother for students is appreciated. And overall, healthy sleep habits early on will transcend into college sleep patterns, which can mean better sleep schedules for students’ entire lives.

The December 10 presentation to the school board, presented by Superintendent Dr. Skelly, was rejected. However, efforts to change the start time continue. The latest board meeting took place on December 15. Although a half an hour a day may not be enough, it is a good start. It signals the staff is trying to reach out a hand to students and show them they hear our complaints.

NO     Vishu Prathikanti, Staff Reporter

Changing the school schedule is a big mistake that will only cause more problems for students and teachers in the future. This idea will not only prove to be ineffective in solving the problem of tired students, but it will create an extra set of obstacles in the pathway to fixing an overarching scheduling solution.

Pushing back school start times fails to effectively solve the issue presented, which is that kids are not getting enough sleep. The school board has not only proposed the idea of later start times but also later ending times to compensate for less time in class. Because of this, changing the start times will not help students in the long run: school and student schedules just get pushed back another 30 minutes, including their sleep.

Additionally, as most students participate in after school activities, if we change our school ending times to be later, students will undoubtedly be faced with the problem of reorganizing their schedules.

Another big issue with the push back of start times is the renegotiation of teacher contracts. If we change the start and ending times first, the inevitable renegotiation of teacher contracts would take double the time: the first renegotiation for later start times, and the next one for a better schedule, which the Journalism staff as a whole has acknowledged we need to implement.

Much of The Burlingame B staff voiced their opinions on how a later start time would provide only a temporary solution to a much larger issue, and soon it simply will not be enough.

Currently, the board has been presented with the idea of later start times, but since this solution will not provide an effective end to the problem of tired students, it is clear that we must present a new idea to the board.

The solution to the problem of kids not getting enough sleep lies in our school scheduling, and how we organize the time in a school day. Our problems will not be solved with simply pushing school start times back.

Many members of the staff presented the idea of adding more block days to the schedule. Although it may seem strange, having four block days in one week would help ease the workload of students, granting more freedom for students to schedule their homework. Sequoia High School implements a schedule similar to this, where Monday they have seven forty minute classes starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 2:30 p.m.

In our staff discussion, many students said that they were overwhelmed with the amount of work they had to do for high school, with some saying that they had to work until they could not keep their eyes open. College applications, extracurricular homework, and sports tend to dominate time after school, so easing the workload of students would serve to help the problem and allow kids to get more time to sleep.

Another solution to the problem of kids without sleep is having only six classes in a day, and having a “zero period” at the beginning of the day at 8:00, the same schedule that Carlmont High School currently implements. With this schedule, the school day would start around 8:57, and would go until 3:15 with 50-minute classes.

Surprisingly, many schools have actually implemented the schedule for a zero period, including Half Moon Bay High School, Menlo Atherton, and Palo Alto High School.

While in the end, it is up to personal preference, there are many hurdles to jump when implementing a different start time or a different schedule. But one thing is for sure: an extra thirty minutes in the morning is not worth it, and it is not enough.

Posted on January 1, 2017 .