Saved By The Bell

New School Start Times In SPS

John Ogden, Reporter

Scheduling this year has been nothing but madness from day one. From sports to theatre, band, orchestra, choir, and anything apart or in between, it has been a constant headache for all of us, and the headache is about to get worse. A large issue that Springfield public schools have had for many years is our system of transportation and getting students to school on time consistently. To fix this problem SPS has proposed a plan involving three-time slots of bus schedules that will reflect and change many start times in SPS. The first of the proposed times being for High schools and certain elementary schools which will be starting at 7:30 am and go until 2:30 pm, the second being for Elementary schools going from 8:30 am and letting out at 3:30 pm, while the final proposed time slot would be for middle schools going from 9:30 am and letting out at 4:30 pm. With this new plan, many great things come along with it such as thousands of students having a new way to get to school with the bus availability radius being based on distance from campus, with high schoolers having to live within 3.5 miles of campus while middle schoolers having to be within 1.5 miles and elementary having to be within 1. While this program would help many students have a way to get to school if they lived within the area from campus required, what about the students who did not? Many parents and guardians have jobs that start at 8 am or 9 am if not earlier so taking their young children to school could become an issue, if there are older siblings of course they could help but with high schoolers starting earlier than all others that cross off that option for many families as well. Many parents also do not have the financial capability to hire others to care for their children before school or do not want their middle schoolers home alone waiting for the bus at 9:15 am. Of course, it is always most important to hear from the perspective of those who will most be affected so when asking Junior CJ Wears he had this to say “I think it would be a lot better if the high schoolers were to start later. With students in high school that have younger siblings, it makes it harder for them to take them to school. Also, having high school start the latest may keep students more engaged and well slept” While the kids inside the bounds of SPSs bus boundaries will be fine many fellow students agree with CJ and also worry about middle school and elementary-aged students being trusted to get to the bus on time and even worried for their safety with SPS wanting to make elementary bussing more of the go-to with many elementary starting at 8:30. Another glaring issue that is presented with this proposition is teenage mental and physical health being affected by the schedules. Already in SPS and all across the nation it is obvious and has been for a very long time that teenagers, especially high school-aged ones do not get enough sleep which affects their grades and progress in school and their mental and physical health. According to the centers for disease control“Teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours” which most of us definitely do not and with these new starting times won’t be anytime soon.