GMSD Considers Switching District Start Times

Antonio Scott, Staff Reporter


In a response to many studies on school start times and student health, the discussion has begun for the Germantown Municipal School District to consider shifting school start times. District leaders administered an online survey for students, parents, school faculties and staffs, and community members regarding the change in start times.

Studies suggest adolescents today face a widespread chronic health problem: sleep deprivation. Although society often views sleep as a luxury that ambitious or active people cannot afford, research shows that getting enough sleep is a biological necessity, as important to health as eating well or exercising.

69% of those who took the survey responded that Houston Middle and High should start at the earliest time within the district.

1,430 Germantown parents and employees responded. Seventy percent of the respondents prefer to move to two school start times. Dogwood Elementary’s 87% of respondents, along with Farmington’s 69%, Riverdale’s 53%, Houston Middle’s 80%, and Houston’s 73% of the respondents want to shift times.

Of those who want to remain at the current start times, 61% are parents and 39% are employees.

Of the choices presented, half chose 7:30/8:30 start times, 30% chose 7:45/8:45, and 2% chose 7:15/8:15.

Houston High administration continually yearns for student opinion. To that effect, Houston students participated in a school-wide survey. Fifty eight percent of students opted to change the school start times.

While many students, student athletes, and students with jobs agree that 2:00 is an appropriate dismissal time, other students suggest a 2:30 dismissal time is key to improving student performance within the classroom. A 2:30 dismissal time would push back all after-school activities thirty minutes.

On September 24, 2014, Houston Principal Kyle Cherry compiled a committee to represent the high school on the district committee. Including Mr. Cherry, community members Jeremy Jackson and Julie Ganey, parents Seulah Lee, Gina Jackson, Andrea McLeod, and Danielle Shaver, staff member Debbie Johnson, teacher Traci Spain, and student leaders Ashley Markle and Antonio Scott represented the Houston community on the group.

Dan Haddow, GMSD’s Chief of Staff, conducted a meeting of the district school start time committee. Held October 14, 2014, GMSD school administrators, educators, parents, community members, and the high school’s junior class President represented ideals from across the district at the meeting.

Parents and community members are planning the push the board toward an 8:00/9:00 start time. Parents contend that sleep is key for daily success at school. Community members are against moving start times due to student opinion, but suggest start times be changed only due to the scientific study mentioned above.