Later starts usher in a new era for District 214


New to the school year of 2017-2018, students get an extra 45 minutes to sleep in in the mornings. This new start time is directed by the D214 board as a two year pilot all over District 214 schools. By the Calendar committee comprised of teachers, staff members, and administrators, they have decided to make this new start time as a benefit to students.

It may be early in the year to judge the distinction of if this start time is actually beneficial to students, but everything seems to be falling into place so far.

Contradicting to that, English teacher Matthew Branham, still believes that 8:15 a.m. is too early to start. He believes that students should rest more and get the right amount of sleep per night to fully function the next morning.

“Some people may disagree with my response of hoping school goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Branham said. “It’s just a real quick day so people can sleep and get home early.”

Not only that, but most teachers have to be at school still pretty much at the exact same time as last year, an hour before school starts, which would be 7:15 this year. Even though that may seem early, it gives them an extended amount of time to chat with each other.

Dean of BG, Kevin Schrammel, thinks that being here an hour early is a good time to be able to collaborate with other teachers and have the allotted time be very useful to staff.

“We, as teachers and staff, are able to be out and about more while students are arriving because they come later. It allows us to collaborate with our colleagues,” Schrammel said.

Some students may have difficulty transitioning from five minute passing periods to four minute ones. It doesn’t allow most people to socialize with friends and possibly even make a quick trip to the bathroom. Now realizing this, students are struggling to make it to class with a minute shorter.

“My experience of starting at 8:15am has mainly been positive because I feel way more awake at the beginning of the day,” junior Jacqueline Bickhaus said. “ The negative aspect is the shortened passing periods since you don’t really have time to talk with your friends unless they walk from class to class with you.”

After school activities and sports have also gotten into the question of how late they’re allowed to stay. Now with the later start, they’ve been given an approximate time limit for how long they’re allowed to practice after school.

“Some limits for how long coaches can stay are much more clear,” Schrammel said.  “Everything is all in best interest for the kids and not making practices extremely late and long so they can still have a balance in life, hopefully, and at home.”

Teachers who coach or sponsor in addition to teaching are having to adjust to the new schedule in terms of balance with work and family time.  The restrictions and encouragement for non-homework and grading weekends are aimed to alleviate some stress for students and staff alike.

“For us teachers in the morning, of course it’s nice to have some professional time,” Branham said. “Regarding the sports area, it does seem like everything so far is playing out well.”

Students are able to utilize tools such as the online assignment notebook or the schoology calendar on their iPads to look to for scheduling help. In Bickhaus’ eyes, she has already started planning her day-by-day plan of how she will start handling both homework and sports.

“I’m hoping that the homework load won’t be too hard to balance,” Bickhaus said. “If I get home maybe by seven at the latest, that still gives me what should be plenty of time to get everything done and not get to bed too late.”

With the no homework weekends and breaks and the crowded parking lot at the end of the day with exit routes crowded, this change could be life changing. It is only the beginning of the new year, but the board foresees this as the schedule for plenty of years to come.

“Make sure to prioritize what is most important and what needs to be done. You still should be getting enough rest, being healthy, and having a balance in life. You need to find an equal space,” Schrammel said. “Please don’t hesitate to communicate with coaches, teachers, or parents if you’re overwhelmed, to make sure you’re getting the right support.”