WESTFIELD, Ind. – Changes are coming to start and end times for Westfield Washington Schools. On Wednesday night, the school board voted unanimously 5-0 to change the schedule, hoping it will improve student performance in the classroom.
The new starting times, which will take effect on the first day of the 2019-2020 school year, will be the following:
Elementary schools: 7:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Westfield Intermediate School and Westfield Middle School: 8:45 a.m. and 3:35 p.m.
Westfield High School: 8:35 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
“This is a change we have been considering for some time,” said Dr. Sherry Grate, superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools. “The scientific data on students’ sleep patterns and brain development overwhelmingly supports moving the school day back for older students, and moving the day up for younger students which allows more time for instruction during their optimal learning time."
Parents are split on the decision. Tina Larson, a parent, approves the changes to start times. Her soon-to-be elementary school student will go to school an hour and 20 minutes earlier than students this year.
"Having the rest of our afternoons free is amazing," said Larson. "We enjoy doing things in the afternoon and to have three hours of basically useless time in the morning when nothing is open, it’s dark, it’s cold, we can’t go out and play like we normally would after school."
Other parents oppose an earlier alarm clock and fear less time with kids at night.
"They go to bed between 8:00 and 8:30. So I was just worried how it is going to affect them getting up," said Jennifer Greer, a parent.
In a video sent out to parents, Dr. Grate and faculty outline research that supports their decision. They refer to the American Sleep Association, the American Medical Association and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, the CDC said most middle and high schools in the United States started the school day too early.
Elementary school staff believes an earlier start time will allow kids to focus more during class.
"They are actually doing the work they need when they are feeling their best," said Karen Grogan, instructional coach at Maple Glen Elementary.
For more information on frequently asked questions, the school district has created this document.