The clocks ticking: Proposal for new school start times preview

Maurice Frazier

On February 15, 2023 Howard County students will finally give witness to real change through a planned proposal. Is this plan the preferred outcome for students and teachers, or is it just an excuse for Howard County to say they finally have a plan.

On January 25, 2023 a Centennial High School Student Community Announcement was shared with all the students. This announcement asked students to give their feedback on the proposal for the new school start times across Howard County. The proposed school start times are split into three sections. Tier 1, High School/ Middle School 8:00 am – 2:45 pm. Tier 2, Middle schools 8:40 am – 3:25 pm, and Elementary Schools 8:40 am – 3:10 pm. Tier 3, Elementary Schools 9:15 am – 3:45 pm. 

There is also an alternative proposal bell schedule in case the first proposal is not favored. Tier 1, Elementary Schools 8:00 am- 2:30 pm. Tier 2, Middle School 8:40 am – 3:25 pm and, Elementary Schools 8:40 am – 3:10 pm. Tier 3, Highschool/ Middle Schools 9:15 am – 4:00 pm. On February 15, 2023 the Board of Education will decide on what, if any, changes will take place. 

So why are we now beginning to see initiative from the Board of Education on changing our schools? Is it because of a lack of sleep that some students are receiving on a daily basis, or is it because the way things are currently, are not sustainable? Whatever the reason the school system has now decided  to take action, but what will this mean for the students and staff?

Ceci Newton, a Centennial Junior had this to say on this issue. “Honestly I think changing the start time will make it harder to get homework done.While I don’t necessarily like waking up early in the morning, I think it is better to wake up early in order to get out early.”

Sleep is crucial to every child’s development. Getting proper rest gives them the energy to get through the day allowing them to stay productive, attentive, and fully process the information received. Understandably, sleep could be a factor for introducing this new proposal, but why introduce it now if this isn’t technically a recent issue seen in students. Students for years have not been receiving enough sleep independent of whatever grade or school they were in. Considering this trend seen in students, this isn’t the best reasoning for pushing for later school start times, or working towards resolving the issue of the lack of sleep students recieve. 

Mrs Cunha, Psychology, Law, and Government teacher at Centennial explained, I don’t think teenagers would get enough extra sleep to make it worth it. I think that that has to come on the going to bed side of things.”  

So, even if this proposal is set into action, will students really benefit from it? Some argue that pushing the school start time back  just encourages students to stay up later. This would result in them receiving either the same amount or even less sleep.

Another factor to consider when looking at this proposal is if the Board of Education is being considerate of everyone in Howard County. The effects of starting an hour later can vary depending on each family and their living situation. This especially can be said for the younger students who may still be dependent on their parents or guardians for transportation  to and from school each day. 

Mr Allan, Custodial Staff at Centennial expressed, “I’m not a fan of it because people are gonna have to pay extra child care and I don’t think they thought about all that stuff. My thing about the Howard County school system is they don’t think about the fact that not everyone who works in the school system can afford to live in Howard County. So you got people from other county’s and some people coming from as far the Pennsylvania line to come over to work here because that’s where they can afford to live. They’re not taking into account that if you start later, people are gonna get off later, meaning they’re gonna get home a lot later to their families.They’re gonna be some people that are gonna have to get home way after their elementary age child gets home. So they gotta make arrangements for that which is probably gonna cost them money.” 

When all perspectives are taken into account, it raises the question of if this is the best thing to focus the county’s efforts on right now. Are there other, more pressing issues that students are facing collectively that the Board should be responding to? Whatever the verdict is on February 15, 2023 concerning this new proposal, hopefully it goes to the betterment of the students and staff of Howard County.  


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