Board splits on school start time

Chase Jordan / Sampson Independent Clinton City Board of Education members discuss educational matters during a meeting earlier this week.

The Clinton City Board of Education is currently divided on the appropriate time to start and end school.

During a Monday meeting, a motion to keep the current times at all schools in the system the same failed when the vote tied at 3-3.

The issue of pushing the start time at Clinton High and other schools in the district was discussed during previous work sessions. Some of the reasons were based on medical and health research.

Board member Diane Viser has been a proponent of changing the start times for students. Chairman Jason Walters and Vice Chairwoman Carol Worley also agreed with her about changes they believe would be beneficial to the system’s students.

“I certainly believe that the responsible thing for our school district is to put the welfare of our children first and allow them to sleep later,” Viser said.

According to Clinton City Schools, the high school’s breakfast time begins at 7:15 a.m. followed by the first class at 7:45 a.m. The tardy bell rings at 7:40 a.m. Viser believes adjustments can be made to accommodate students.

“Anything less than that in my view is neglect,” Viser stressed. “I do not support keeping things as they are. I think we can do better.”

Board members E.R. Mason, Randall Barefoot and Georgina Zeng voted to keep the schedule the same for all schools, after the issue was studied by school and district officials.

Based on research, Worley said she would not like to see high schoolers attend classes before 8 a.m., although it has a trickle down effect. She also mentioned her concern about L.C. Kerr’s start time.

“I do not think 6- or -7-year-olds should be going to school before 8 o’clock either,” Worley stressed.

According to medical research previously presented, some of the pros surrounding pushing the start times to later in the morning included an increase in student achievement, a reduction in adolescent sleep disorders, an increase in graduation rates and a drop in absent students.

As a result of the decision, school officials will have to examine the matter and present financial impacts to the board. One of the issues mentioned was the timing of bus routes. Some of the others included athletic practices and parents having enough time to get to evening activities on time. Later start times would also mean later release times, pushing other activities back a bit.

“I don’t want to see something changed if it’s going to be detrimental down the road just for the sake of changing it for the high school and the other schools are effected,” Walters said about seeking more information.

As it stands right now, the city schools’ start times will remain the same.