Fairfax County Changes School Start Times

What Do You Think of the Start Time?

(Photo courtesy of times online.typepad.com)

(Photo courtesy of times online.typepad.com)

William Rhodes, Feature Editor

As you know, Fairfax County Public Schools changed the start times for school this year. Times for high school now start between 8:00 and 8:10 a.m. Middle schools now start at 7:30 a.m. and elementary schools now start between 8:00 and 9:20 a.m. There was a large debate about changing the start times, with strong opinions on both sides. Before the decision was made the estimated cost was $5.4 million, and a need for 47 more buses was predicted. The actual cost of the program was $4.7 million and there were only 27 more buses needed.

The debate about changing the start times has been happening for a while. There have been many scientific studies put out that high-school aged students do not get enough sleep. The push back in times is designed to let students get about one more hour of sleep a night.

Student opinion is varied. Sandra Roda (11) says, At first I thought I wouldnt like it, but now I appreciate getting to sleep in a little longer every morning. I dont really mind getting out later either.Jojo DiScipio (10) has a different opinion: The time change is bad for students who do extracurricular activities because they have no time to do homework after school.Izan Ashraf (12) says, “I like it because I get to come to school later, but I miss getting out at 2:05. Last year the traffic was not bad at all, but now it is horrible going to and coming from school.

The time change also affects teachers. Madame NKomba, one of Falls Churchs French teachers, explains that While students are certainly more awake during first block, I find that the later time pushes after school activities inconveniently late for students who work or teachers who take classes after school.

This additional cost will now be another discussion for next year. Next year Fairfax County Public Schools will have an estimated $100 million budget deficit. While the cost is only about five percent of the deficit, it would help FCPS cut costs if they change times back. This is just one of the cost cutting options FCPS will most likely have to take before next school year.

It seems that every student has a different opinion on the change of start times. For freshman it is not that much of a change as middle schools used to start at 7:40 a.m.  Whether you like them or not, these times are here to stay for this year.