VB students push back against school start time change

Education

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A group of Virginia Beach students are coming out against the district’s recommended schedule changes, saying the move would have more negative impacts than positive ones.

A Change.org petition asking Virginia Beach Public Schools to keep school start times as they currently are has more than 10,000 signatures as of this posting. The creator said she is a high school student.

Earlier this month, the district recommended the Virginia Beach School Board adopt a schedule change that would move high school start times to 9:20 a.m. next school year. Nearly a year ago, the school board voted to push back school start times to improve academic performance for adolescents.

The superintendent’s team said the following schedule would match medical research for students’ sleep patterns:

  • Elementary A schools: 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Elementary B schools: 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Middle schools: 8:40 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.
  • High schools: 9:20 a.m. – 4:10 p.m.

Virginia Beach high school students currently start at 7:20 a.m., with middle and elementary schools following.

“We really wouldn’t have much of a problem if it started 30 or so minutes later … it’s if school started a lot later it would negatively affect people’s schedules,” said Brandon Hodges, 16, a junior at Kempsville High School.

Hodges and a few friends have been encouraging people to sign the petition. He explained while students were surveyed, he is concerned if their voices were really heard. The option the students most preferred in a recent survey was not recommended.

Hodges thinks the 2-hour change will complicate a high school student’s ability to hold a steady part time job. He said while many use it for spending money, others must work.

“There are some students who actually have to work to financially support their families,” Hodges said. “And so it’s not something I feel people should have to choose between supporting their families and a good education.”

Hodges also fears that it will leave parents in a bind with younger children. Right now elementary students dismiss after high school.

“Say if they have a younger sibling, they won’t be able to watch their sibling after school,” Hodges said.

Finally, he thinks no extra sleep will be seen.

“Students would not be able to go to bed earlier, in fact they would only go to bed later because they just start their homework later. The time spent working would be the same and the lack of sleep would be the same,” Hodges said.

The plan would also increase operating costs. It would require the need for approximately 80 additional school bus driver hours per day and $2.5 million in one-time costs to finish high school field lighting.

The school board is expected to hear an update on plans at their meeting on October 22.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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