Schedule Changes for the 2018-19 School Year

Article by Zoey FitzGerald Kidwell

On Tuesday, March 20th, the Kings Board of Education voted to remove Wednesday early release starting next school year. In addition to this change, the board also agreed on a later school start time, 7:50 A.M., for the KJH and KHS. Despite this later starting time, school will still end at 2:25 every day. In order to shorten the school day, the district also made the decision to cut down time in between each class from five to four minutes.

On April 3rd, In a newsletter posted to the Kings Local School District website, it was stated that the district sent out a survey in February asking parents if a 30-minute later start time would benefit them. With 721 responses recorded, the results were unanimous. 613 of those responses answered from neutral to strongly agree.

The newsletter also reported, “Additionally, our survey results showed that nearly 80% of respondents (between neutral and strongly agree) answered that the elimination of Early Release would be easier on their family schedule.

Although the results of both surveys indicate that parents fully support the changes, students’ opinions tend to differ. Timothy Bredemeier, Junior, told The Knight Times, I really like early release because it gives me time to relax on Wednesdays in the middle of the week and catch up on any homework i missed out on or hang out with my friends. I don’t think that 25 minutes in the morning helps me as much as that extra hour in the week. I’ll end up staying up later and sleeping the same amount.”

Jordan Harkins expressed similar beliefs, raising concerns about the later start time specifically. She understands that a 7:50 AM start time is great for most, but she’s already well into her daily schedule by then. With swim practice at 5:00 AM everyday, she gets to school at about 7:00 AM.  But with school starting at 7:50, mornings will be getting a little more difficult for her next year. “With the delayed start, if I choose to go home, I would have to leave for school right when I got there.”

Other students, like Rowan Hayden, find that the schedule actually helps reduce the stress in their life. Rowan has never found early release beneficial, and can’t wait to reap the benefits of a later start time. “As a Senior next year, I think the new schedule is amazing. Yes, early releases were convenient, but getting extra sleep every night is way better. Full year activities and AP classes make my schedule hectic, so I’ll take as much sleep as I can get!”

While reasons for the new schedule focus mostly on prioritizing both student sleep and classroom time, there were many deciding factors that went beyond the kids. In an interview with The Knight Times, Principal Doug Leist shed a light on the issue. “Of course, a later start time just make sense. Studies have shown that high school students need more sleep and we wanted to make sure to include that in the updated schedule, but there were many factors that went into the final decision. For example, costs. Buses usually have a paid waiting period before picking up kids for Columbia Intermediate. Without that waiting period, we’re saving a bit of money.”

In regards to early release, Mr. Leist shared his concerns about the usefulness of the extra hour before extracurriculars on Wednesdays. From what he’s observed, students are not doing homework and being productive so much as they are sitting and doing nothing. In addition, only two teachers are responsible for watching an upwards of 200 students which, as you can imagine, can easily get out of hand.

During that hour, teachers are also hampered when it comes to productivity. Leist says, “Productivity doesn’t happen in 40 minutes. We find that if we instead implement day long development workshops for teachers, that we can actually get a lot more done.” Next year, there are two inservice days added to the calendar for this purpose.

Aside from these benefits, one of the driving factors for changing the schedule was consistency. For example, Mr. Leist described just how difficult it is for many parents to find a babysitter for an hour every Wednesday. Now, they don’t have to worry about scheduling around early release because each day will begin and end at the exact same time.

In addition to providing consistency week to week, the district has also created set-in-stone schedules for every possible scenario: pep rallies, two hour delays, one hour delays, and advisory periods. The advisory period schedule will be used when there are class meetings or guest speakers in the middle of the day.

Leist concluded his interview with The Knight Times with reassurance for the King’s community. “No matter what, change is difficult. Though many people believe this change will be good, nobody is ever 100% ready to shift their life around. But I have confidence that this will be great for the district. We’re all trying it out together, and I hope we all find our own benefits with this schedule come next year.”

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