The question of making school starting time earlier to reduce expenses generates a lot of controversy among parents and advocates for child health. While some families find that the children adjust, most agree that early school starting times which necessitate children boarding the school bus around 6 am is not optimal.
At the Allison Traditional Magnet Middle School in Wichita, Kansas, eighth grader Abbie Veatch says that she found the 7 a.m. starting bell a challenge, as she was coming from an elementary school that started at 9 a.m. time. “I was a little scared to do it because I thought I would not be able to get up and stuff,” Abbie said. “People told me it was pretty bad but you got used to it.” After three years, she still has not gotten used to the early start time.
Cutting the transportation budget is the goal this year in Wichita, as district leaders consider starting nine schools earlier next year. The start times would be moved from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. This includes three K-8 schools, a middle school, and five special program schools.
Some magnet schools have started at 7 a.m for the past decade. Some students and parents say it is not idea but is preferable to laying off teachers or cutting programs.
“It’s not optimal, but we’d make it work,” said Trish Hileman, mother of a Christa McAuliffe student. “I don’t want to see 40 kids to a classroom, and I’m not sure what other options they really have.”