School start time debate nearing decision


After two years of discussion, the decision to push back high school start times reaches an end. On October 23, the school board will vote on 8 a.m. start times for the 2015-2016 Fairfax County school year. However, is this change in the student’s best interest?

High schools in Fairfax County begin at 7:20 a.m. and end at 2:10 p.m. Many people argue that later times would be beneficial because studies have shown that the brain remains in “sleep mode” until 8 a.m. By pushing back the start times, students supposedly would obtain more sleep, maintain a healthier lifestyle, and have a positive mindset.

However, others believe that the amount of sleep is more important than when you go to sleep. We are taught as teenagers to receive eight hours of sleep a night in order to acquire healthy sleep habits.

Eating and using technology prior to bed can cause negative effects on someone’s sleep pattern. If start times are pushed back, student’s daily routines will also be pushed back.

What about the students involved in extracurricular activities including sports and clubs?

Many student athletes go to sleep at a later hour because of their long practices and games. If the start time changes, practices will become much later which makes it difficult to finish homework. Studying past midnight is not an ideal situation as it is hard to retain information late in the evening.

FCPS has made budget cuts that increase the number of students in schools and removed some electives. Apparently, however, pushing start times back by 40 minutes is worth spending $4,907,482.

There have been paper shortages, increased class sizes, and limited materials available in the school. Yet, it seems that the School Board feels that changing the start time is more helpful to students and faculty.

If the School Board votes in favor of the new times, sleep deprivation will remain a problem. The cost is too great for an idea that does not bring positive changes to Fairfax County.