Olentangy sends parents survey on later start times


Olentangy schools are asking parents for their input about later start and end times across the district.

A survey was emailed on Thursday to assess whether parents support students starting school later in the day at the middle and high school levels.

“In order to achieve a later middle and high school start time, it may be necessary for elementary students to begin their school day earlier,” the district stated on its website.

The survey will close May 4.

Earlier this month, Fallon Research & Communications Inc. informed the Olentangy school board that 70 percent of the 403 respondents interviewed for the district’s Community Satisfaction Survey were in favor of later start times for middle and high school start times, while 23 percent opposed and the rest mixed or not certain.

But 54 percent were in favor of changing schedules to allow younger students to start early and older students start later, while 36 percent opposed.

Respondents included 175 parents.

Olentangy high schools’ hours are from 7:20 a.m., while middle schools’ hours start at 7:40 or 8:10 a.m. and elementary schools start at 8:50 or 9:05 a.m. each day, according to the district’s website.

Start and end times-related questions were added to the Fallon survey after the district’s Continuous Improvement Committee made the case for later start times for older students to the board on Nov. 10 last year.

David Clark was one of the students who talked about his busy work schedule with the board at that meeting. The freshman at Olentangy Liberty High School wakes up between 6 and 6:20 a.m. to catch a bus about 20 minutes later.

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were his longer days during the fall semester because marching band practice lasted three hours after school. Clark also performed with the band for Friday football games and wouldn’t get home until about 11 p.m. at the latest. He would also get up early for Saturday band competitions.

“I think a later start time would benefit me because it would allow me more time to get sleep so I could be better functionally,” he said.

Eighty-four percent of Olentangy teachers reported that first period students have less energy than other students throughout the day, according to a teacher survey.

The committee provided three proposals that ranged up to $12.5 million for additional buses and up to $7.2 million in additional operating costs. The proposals in general would have middle and high school students start the day at 8 a.m. at the earliest. One proposal would make the current first period a “zero period” available for students that can provide his or her own transportation.

At the November meeting, Superintendent Mark Raiff said the district is among the few locally to provide eight periods for students to meet the district’s requirement to have 22 credits to graduate.

“There will be a cost,” if later start times were implemented, he said.

Board members also did not endorse any of the proposals and pointed out that students have a late-start option, although transportation is not provided.

“I’m not willing to make that cut in academics,” board member Julie Feasel said, in reference to removing a class period from the school day.

Current Olentangy Board President Roger Bartz said at the time the proposals did not have enough detail to understand the true costs in terms of finances, academics and extracurricular programs.

“Personally for me and my children, I never felt it was the responsibility of Olentangy Local Schools to make sure my children got enough sleep,” he said.

For information about the latest survey email Carrie Ahmed, administrative assistant of the district’s communications department, at [email protected].

By Brandon Klein

[email protected]

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

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