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Budget Problems Force District to Adopt Earlier School Start Times Despite CDC Warning

Budget Problems Force District to Adopt Earlier School Start Times Despite CDC Warning

Students in Kansas’ Wichita school district are being forced to adjust to earlier school start times this year for its youngest students after budget issues forced school leaders to act.

Several schools in the Wichita school district already start at 7 a.m., but nine more schools might be in line to embrace 7 a.m. start times next year as well.

"Wichita school district leaders are considering starting nine schools earlier next year, switching their start times from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. to more evenly distribute buses and cut the transportation budget,” said The Wichita Eagle.

"On the list are three K-8 schools – Gordon Parks, Horace Mann and Christa McAuliffe – and Robinson Middle School, home to a districtwide pre-International Baccalaureate magnet program. The district also could move up start times at five special-program schools: Chisholm Life Skills, Gateway, Greiffenstein, Sowers and Wells."

While many are not happy with the idea, some say it’s a better alternative than being forced to lay off staff or cut funding to school programs.

One principal at a Wichita middle school that has already implemented the early time said "the 7 a.m. start time can be a challenge for students and families, but most adjust fine. When he visits elementary schools to promote [the school’s] program, he makes sure to tell prospective sixth-graders they’d be waking up earlier.”

But some advocates are slamming the move, pointing to a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning that says forcing children to get up too early for school could cause health risks such as “being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance. The warnings have inspired many school districts across the country to implement later school start times. 

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Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

4/6/2016

Are budget cuts an excuse to implement earlier school start times?

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