The WFISD Board of Trustees had a lengthy discussion on the possibility of changing school start times on Tuesday afternoon.
“I think we had 27 comments that were for the most part in favor of the change,” WFISD Superintendent, Michael Kuhrt, said. “About 35 comments that were not in favor of the change. And out of 14,000 students they came to the conclusion that most people either are not commenting purposefully or there isn’t that big of a deal.”
District leaders discussed several concerns: like scheduling conflicts with parents’ jobs, athletics and the bus schedule.
However, the superintendent said he is confident they can work all of that out.
“But what it came back to was still the research shows that elementary students …. their ideal learning time is first thing in the morning and secondary students — it doesn’t kick in for a couple of hours later, so that’s what it came back to,” Kuhrt said.
A decision could be made as soon as next week.
“We’re gonna look at some more information for them and gather more information on transportation and on some of the other programs it could be effected by this and bring it back to them by Monday and I think they’ll have a decision come Monday,” Kuhrt said.
To voice your opinion on the change, click HERE.
The board for Wichita Falls Independent School District is considering switching the start times of schools next year.
Elementary students could begin school earlier, while junior high and high school would switch to a later start time – 8:30 a.m., according to the district.
“It’s based on research,” WFISD Superintendent, Michael Kuhrt, said. “It’s based on brainwaves and brain functions and elementary brains kick in earlier than secondary brains.”
Later start times benefits adolescents and improves their attentiveness in class, according to the studies that the district sites. Teens have a delayed onset of melatonin at night.
“If you’re a student and you have first period and second period and those are core academic classes and that’s really not an ideal learning time for you, then that really puts students at a disadvantage,” Kuhrt said.
The district has considered the research on teenage sleep patterns and biological difference for some time.
So why make the change now?
“The state passed a new bill last legislative session, changing our hours or days per year to minutes per year and so with that change with minutes per year. It’s a good time to look at it,” Kuhrt said.
However, Kuhrt said they understand parents’ possible concerns, like it impacting their work days. Wichita Falls residents we spoke with had different opinions on the change.
“The later start time not only allows them to be able to relax in the evening,” Wichita Falls parent, Suzanna Terrell, said “If they have a lot of homework they can relax, have a second to just do something they enjoy…. whether they are online playing games or Skyping…. Something they enjoy. Then, they can get a good night’s sleep.”
Others thought parents just need to enforce earlier bed times.
“I think that the later time for the kids – at eight thirty for high school kids – is not a good thing,” Wichita Falls resident, Karen Barlow, said. “They’re going to have to be at work before eight thirty anyway in their real life… So they need to learn how to learn that schedule.”
On Tuesday, the board has an afternoon work session, where they will continue to discuss the possible change. Kuhrt says the change could be voted in on February 15.
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