OCPS Change in Start Times
OCPS MEANS SUCCESS. Over the next several weeks, the school board, parents and students will play a major factor in the decision if schools in Orange County will change start times. Here represents two out of three start time options. photo courtesy/OCPS

Since the past year, public school start times in Orange County is an ongoing discussion by board members, teachers and parents. Numerous polls through OCPS and schools within the county are asking for opinions from students and their parents regarding the change.

Currently, high schools in Orange County begin at 7:20 a.m. and end at 2:20 p.m. Class at elementary schools and K-8 centers begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. and middle school starts the latest at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 3:57 p.m.

Through numerous polls and surveys, OCPS presents three options that will push start times for all grade levels further and the last option leaves all times the same.

Option A would push start times back 20 minutes.
High schools: 7:40 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.
Middle schools: 9:50 a.m.- 4:17 p.m.
Elementary schools and K-8 centers: 9:05 a.m.- 3:20 p.m.

Option B would push start times 40 minutes.
High schools: 8 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Middle schools: 10:10 a.m.- 4:37 p.m.
Elementary schools and K-8 centers: 9:25 a.m.- 3:40 p.m.

Option C adjusts times accordingly:
High schools: 8:45 a.m.- 3:45 p.m.
Middle schools: 10:15 a.m.- 4:42 p.m.
Elementary schools and K-8 centers: 8 a.m.- 2:15 p.m.

A study by Pamela McKeever of Central Connecticut State University and her colleague, Linda Clark, found that pushing back high-school start times to 8:30 a.m. can improve graduation and attendance rates. McKeever and Clark compared the rates of 29 high schools across seven states before and after the schools implemented a delayed starting time. The average graduation rate jumped from 79% to 88%, and the average attendance rate went from 90% to 94%.

According to WebMD, despite teens requiring an average of 9.25 hours of sleep per night for optimal performance in classes, by the end of high school adolescents average less than 7 hours per school night.

“[I do not believe there are any health benefits of school’s beginning later because], people just need to start going to bed earlier,” mathematics teacher Kelly Morales said.

Health benefits or not, shifting high school schedules without adjusting middle and elementary schools would mean paying for more school buses and more bus drivers. Pushing school start times would affect extracurriculars after school and sporting events would have to accommodate with a two hour cut in the afternoon.

While the reason for adolescents wanting to push school start times may be for more sleep or getting extra homework done, the complications with needing buses later, increase in traffic and ride situations.

“[I have gone through a school time change before] during my first two years of high school, my [previous] school started at 8:30 a.m. and during 11th grade when I transferred to Boone school starts an hour earlier. I definitely prefer the 8:30 a.m. [start time] and getting more rest,” senior Zion Council said.

As answers to the questions about school start times still unanswered, students and parents have the opportunity to voice their opinions through upcoming official surveys sent by OCPS and see the results if schools start times will remain the same or change.