The idea of starting school later has been debated many times over the years. However, this year it seems like it is being considered more seriously than ever for Millburn High School. Discussing the schedule change is an official topic on the Board of Education’s agenda for this year, meaning the Board will certainly discuss it.
As a student, starting school later sounds wonderful. We all work hard. Who couldn’t use an extra hour or so of sleep?
Millburn is never going to change its workload, it’s a part of why Millburn graduates are so prepared for college. Therefore, there’s really not much that can be done to help students out, other than by giving them more time.
Common Lunch was the first step in this direction. Now, most clubs don’t meet after school and there is a designated time during the day for unstructured work/studying, and relaxing. That one part of my day provides me the most relief and ensures I have at least one subject’s worth of homework done before even going home.
Starting school later is the next step in giving students more time. Without the stress of waking up early, the stress of getting to bed as early as possible is also lessened.
Unfortunately, these benefits come with costs, both for students and the district.
What’s going to happen to everyone who plays sports? With an 8:30 am first bell, at the earliest sports will start at 3:30, so all those students will be getting home significantly later. That simply isn’t fair when these students have the same work load as everyone else.
Of course, the need to wake up so early will be eliminated, so it can be argued sports kids will be getting the exact same amount of sleep as before. But going with that argument, why should school start later if those kids aren’t going to be getting more sleep? Doesn’t that diminish the whole purpose?
There have been various solutions proposed informally to solve this from shortening common lunch to having sports kids miss some of their eighth period class under a rotating class schedule.
Both of those solutions come with an entirely set of new problems to be addressed. Notably, about the potential hike in busing costs or the problems with having elementary schools start at 7:45 am.
As great as the idea initially sounds, going through all the cons makes the decision far more complicated.
Let’s remember the change from our split up lunch period to common lunch did happen, despite the extra inconveniences and problems created.
And look at how that change positively impacted student lives.
There is hope in how at least the Board of Education is trying to make positive changes for all students.
Wherever you stand, it’s important you have a voice. At the end of each Board of Education meeting, there is a set time when people are allowed to go up to the microphone and share their thoughts. It’s called “Public Comments.” You have 3 minutes to tell the board members what you think and if you have an opinion on this situation, you have a right to share it.
This decision doesn’t have to be made without student influence, nor should it be. Our lives will be impacted by whatever happens.