The start time for the high school and middle school’s 2015-2016 year was changed to 8:05 and 8:10. So far, this later start time has decreased the number of unverified tardies to first hour by 45% and reduced unverified absences in first hour by 54%.
“We would have been interested to see 10% decline, but this is just overwhelming,” said Joe Patek, assistant principal.
Last year, there were 529 unexcused tardies and 426 unverified absences to first hour for the month of September. In contrast, by the end of this year’s September, there were only 289 unexcused tardies and 195 unverified absences.
“We were all expecting fewer, but not that drastic of a change,” Patek said.
Erykah Wright, sophomore, struggled last year with getting to school on time; however, this year she has not been tardy at all.
“It really helped,” Wright said. “Now it is a lot easier to get to there on time or even earlier.”
According to Wright, the change allowed her to get to school earlier to finish homework or do other things. “I can meet my teachers before school, which really helped my academic career,” Wright said.
The later start time also allowed a zero hour team concepts to be added.
“I knew if they changed the start time then I would take zero hour,” said Grace Munson, sophomore.
Taking the early team concepts class allowed for Munson to take the yearlong physics course as a replacement.
“I really like zero hour this year,” Munson said.
Munson enjoys the class because of the people, the greater freedom in class activities, the smaller class size and the less-crowed fitness center.
“It is a good way to wake up by being active at the beginning of the day,” Munson said.
Patek says if more students show interest in zero hour courses, the school may begin to offer more.
“I could see us eventually offering more [zero hour classes],” Patek said. “It will depend on what kind of demand there is.”
According to Patek, when the idea of the later start time was first brought up, he was unsure it would actually make a difference. He believed this would cause students to stay up later.
Munson and Wright both agree that even with a later start time they both still go to bed at the same time as they did last year.
“There are a lot of different factors that could be a reason why [there is a decrease in tardies], I do not think you can say that the late start is the sole reason for the decline,” Patek said.
According to Patek, this decline could also be attributed to a change in student body with 25% of the school being new, or the types of schedules with less people having a first hour class.
According to Patek, Timothy Kenney, principal, received calls from schools outside of Wisconsin asking for our data and how we did the schedule change.
“It will be interesting to see if as we keep moving forward, if [the decrease in tardies] continues,” Patek said.
by Martha Dix