Short lunch and recess times across the Anchorage School District drew complaints at the Anchorage School Board's meeting Monday evening.

At present, ASD students from kindergarten through sixth grade only have 45 minutes allotted each school day for lunch and recess. 

"We have one of the shortest school days in the nation," said School Board President Starr Marsett. "So it’s really hard to make up that time, but it’s not that the board isn’t listening."

Parents and students pushed back against those time constraints last year, leading to the formation of the group ASD 60. A petition posted on its website seeking 60-minute lunch/recess blocks at all district schools has received more than 5,300 signatures.

On Monday night, 18 parents, students and community members appeared before the board to voice their concerns with the current situation.

"We are asking that every school provide a minimum of 30 minutes for lunch and 30 minutes for recess," said parent Carey Carpenter with ASD 60. "I have heard, on multiple occasions, comments from ASD representatives that recess and lunch have not been cut in over 10 years. Last year, in the largest elementary school in the state of Alaska, recess and lunch was cut from 60 minutes to 45 minutes. That affected over 700 students."

Students also addressed the school board, asking for more time.

"If a student had to get hot lunch and they were in the first class to clean up, they may have 10 minutes or less to eat the food in front of them," said student Merridy Littell. "This is not enough time to finish their lunch."

"Recess and lunch are opportunities to relax, to socialize and to unwind and to prepare for another three hours of rules and work," said student Henri Mouton. "In a six-hour day, only 20 minutes are we allowed to just play. Even when we are outside, the clock stresses kids out because they are watching the clock wind down. It's too much stress, too many rules all day long."

The next school board meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 22.

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