Huntsville City Schools approves later high school start time

Published: Jul. 11, 2017 at 8:52 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2017 at 3:11 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville city school leaders approved a plan to push back start times for high schools by 30 minutes to now start at 8:30 a.m.

On Monday night, the school board discussed the idea and ultimately decided to move forward with it.

School leaders believe this is the easiest way to alleviate timing issues and make things safer for teen drivers to not be driving in the morning rush hour traffic.

Board member Pam Hill from district five says the Durham bus service has been horrible in her district and she has some doubts the new schedule will change anything.

"I'm not against a staggered start, what I'm doubtful about is Durham Buses, they haven't proved efficient, effective, they haven't had enough staff, they've left students waiting, they've gotten lost," said Pam Hill, District 5 Huntsville Board of Education.

Hill says that students should not have to wait for a bus.

"I want to be sure we have adequate buses. I don't want the children standing there for hours. I want them picked up on time," said Hill.

On the other hand, Superintendent Matt Akin thinks a later start time will help combat the transportation issues.

"Some of the issues we're dealing with are just the fact that schools are far apart and then others are traffic and things," said Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Matt Akin.

Hill says she only has one problem with the proposal.

"I hope it works, I am not against anything that will help our students, my problem is we're using Durham buses," said Hill.

The district says the change will make student commutes safer, allow them to schedule more efficient bus routes, and help your child perform better in the classroom.

Keith Ward, spokesman for Huntsville City Schools says an 8:30 start time would offer a safer commute for those students driving to school, by keeping them off the roads during the peak of the morning rush hour.

And finally, Ward says that studies show a later start time, even by just a half hour, helps students do better in the classroom and that extra sleep really show in the form of improved standardized test scores.

Start times will only change for the district's high schools. The first day of school for Huntsville students is Aug. 2.

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