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School days to change

The times when students will be getting on school buses in Alexandria School District 206 will change next fall. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria District 206 School Board approved proposed changes to the beginning and end times of the school day. This will alter the start and end times of every school in the district.

0 Talk about it

Two committees started looking into the possibility of changing school times in the spring of 2013. With the main concern being on high school students’ absences and falling asleep in class, the committees proposed switching the two bus tiers in the district to delay the start to the secondary school schedule.

Studies focused on students ages 14 to 18 showed support for later school times, explaining the melatonin process in a teenager doesn’t begin until around 11 p.m. and continues to secrete until 8 the following morning. A large amount of this research was found in a University of Minnesota study.

Knowing of the concerns for Miltona families, which is the one elementary school that will have a later start time, the committees went to the board to propose a Compass program that would allow parents to still drop off students at 7:30 a.m. The board committed to the district paying for this program.

Jackie Vogt, parent of a Miltona student, spoke before the board to express her concerns if the action were to be approved. Some of her big concerns regarded the proposed Compass program for Miltona families, including the lack of busing specifically for the program and what would happen when schools are two hours late.

Vogt also expressed concern of the high school ending at a later time and how it would affect teenagers’ after-school activities.

“After school activities will have to run later,” Vogt said. “That will leave students less time for homework and less family time.”

Vogt was also worried about students having to miss more school for out-of-town events, how the new schedule would affect students wishing to take courses at Alexandria Technical and Community College and if students will still be able to have part-time jobs if they are released from school later in the afternoon.

Vogt passed out research she pulled from the Children’s Health Network and the National Sleep Foundation, saying that the responsibility needs to be placed on the parents to get their children to bed at a decent time, including cutting screen time before bed.

In addressing how the change will affect students taking college-credit courses, board member Pam Carlson pointed out that her son, who will be a senior next year at Alexandria Area High School, registered earlier that day for his fall semester. His schedule will consist of six college courses; two being advanced placement and the others split between two different colleges. All of his classes will be in the high school building, regardless of the beginning and end times of the school day.

Board member Dave Anderson pointed out that in a study done in Edina and Minneapolis public schools, 50 percent of families affected by the Edina change opposed the new schedule when it was first implemented. After the first school year was completed on the new schedule, 92 percent indicated that they preferred the new times.

“It’s working for these schools and others,” Anderson said. “It’s time we follow what they are doing.”

Current Schedule/2014-2015 Schedule

Miltona Science Magnet 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. / 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Lincoln 8:25 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. / 8:15 a.m. – 2:45 a.m.

Garfield 8:20 a.m. – 2:50 p.m. / 7:55 a.m. – 2:25 p.m.

Carlos 8:25 a.m. – 2:55 p.m. / 7:55 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Voyager & Woodland 8:50 a.m. – 2:55 p.m. / 7:50 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Discovery Middle School 7:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. / 8:15 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Jefferson High School 7:45 a.m. – 2:25 p.m.  / AAHS 8:25 a.m. – 3:05 p.m. 

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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