Barrington High start time to remain 7:20 a.m.

Posted4/20/2016 5:02 AM
  • Barrington High School students will continue starting the school day at 7:20 a.m., the school board has decided.

      Barrington High School students will continue starting the school day at 7:20 a.m., the school board has decided. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Despite an effort to change the start time at Barrington High from 7:20 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. next year, the Barrington Area Unit School District 220 board decided Tuesday the shift would not be worth pursuing.

Two weeks ago the board asked the district staff to assess whether school bus drivers would still have enough time to pick up middle- and elementary-schoolers after dropping high school students off 10 minutes later than usual. The staff's conclusion was that Barrington High could start at 7:30 a.m. but students would still be dropped off by buses at the usual time, which can be before 7 a.m.

"If you're not going to change the time the kids are dropped off, you're not going to have any benefit," said board member Sandra Bradford, who had been among the most vocal supporters for implementing a small change to the district's start times next year in advance of a more substantial long-term change starting in the 2017-2018 school year. "If you could have also moved that drop-off time back by 10 minutes, too, then I would have pushed harder for it."

The issue of start times has been perhaps the most discussed subject in the district since a board-appointed advisory committee completed an exhaustive yearlong study earlier this year on what the ideal district school schedule would be for students' health. The committee, called Input 220, said the current schedule contributed to students experiencing sleep deprivation, bad for their health and increasing the rate of car accidents.

Bradford said that after hearing how important it was for students to get more sleep, she will now occasionally drive her children to school herself on days where she thinks they will sleep longer than if they had to get up and wait for the bus.

"I wouldn't have done it before hearing about the research," Bradford said. "We've got to figure out a way to change this for the kids."

At its last meeting, the board gave itself a Nov. 1 deadline to come up with a substantial start time solution. On May 17, the board plans to dedicate most of its meeting to the topic of start times by asking the district community to share their ideas and concerns at an informal forum.

The district also plans on creating an online forum where people can submit their ideas digitally as well.

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