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Parents, teachers, students sound off on later school start times

A meeting about changing school start times was held Thursday night at Northwest Middle School. Photo courtesy of Salt Lake City School District.

SALT LAKE CITY —  The later school start times debate rages on in Salt Lake City, as the board of education continues its listening tour on the topic.

Parents, teachers and students weighed in Thursday night at Northwest Middle School. It was the second of four public meetings put on by the Salt Lake City Board of Education to discuss later start times at area high schools.

Arguing against later school start times

At least one parent, Laura Hernandez, reminded the board that some people who work multiple jobs already have trouble juggling work and getting kids to school on time five days a week.

She told school officials that instead of later school start times, the school board should focus on other ways to help the community.  Changing the times, she said, won’t help.

Child care, coordinating pick-ups and drop-offs, and what to do if older children care for younger siblings until parents get home were also some concerns from parents.

One teacher at Thursday night’s meeting told the board she loved getting up early, and that it was one reason for her success in the profession, “because I knew how to get my butt out of bed,” she said.

In favor of later school start times

Other parents said their children would benefit from more sleep.

West High School Community Council chairwoman Katherine Stroud said pushing the times up even a half-an-hour would help her child who is a night owl.  Stroud says many days she struggles to get up and get her day going.  Later starts, she says, would help her better prepare for the day.

Parents also expressed concerns about students with disabilities, and the extra time already dedicated to them before and after school on many days.

Amanda Longwell, a mother of three children, said the change could affect teacher preparation time as well.  If a child needs after-school time, pushing back school hours would mean some students would get to bed later.

Coming up

Two more public meetings are scheduled to gather input on the proposal. A meeting on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 will be held at Hillside Middle School at 6 p.m.  On Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, the Glendale Public Library at 1375 S. Concord St. will be the site of a meeting starting at 10 a.m.

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