ASD takes serious look at school start times
For the last decade, the Anchorage School District has looked into changing the start times for high schoolers.
"It's due time that we really take a serious look at this," Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said. "That is if we are serious about the health of our kids and having them do well in school."
The new start time would affect the lives of over 50,000 people. ASD is the largest in the state with over 47,000 students and 6,000 employees in 100 schools.
"The hurdles are everything from work schedules of parents and community members both internally in our school district as well as externally," Dr. Bishop said. "We are connected throughout the state, in regard to ASAA ( Alaska School Activities Association), so we would have to get in front of that and actually schedule different times in gyms, different times for practices and games, things like that."
Everything from the time a bus picks up a child in the neighborhood to driving on the Seward Highway to work, it is a major change for the whole community.
"We want to work with the community and make sure the change is communicated well and people have their input," Dr. Bishop said. "That's why we will take our time to ensure our community is involved in this. It's not as easy as changing a bell schedule at a high school or elementary school, it's quite significant if you consider students lives and parents lives."
Under the current schedule, high schoolers are bused to school first, followed by middle schoolers then grade schoolers -- all finishing school in the same order in the afternoon.
The school board is looking at different scenarios as to what grade level would start first under the new start time. The order may also slide forward 15 minutes or back 15 minutes. The change would affect people system-wide and significantly change how families do business with their time.
Afternoon childcare and after-school athletics and activities would be impacted the most.
The school board hopes to have a recommendation in March or April of 2018 on which way to move. If there is a recommendation to change, it would go into effect in the fall of 2019.