Studies show proof positive that high school students do better by starting their school day later in the morning, and the converse is true (earlier) for middle school students.
The Ladue School District surveyed the parents concerning change of school day hours and the results were inconclusive. Half wanted change, have did not.
Some 71 percent of Ladue Horton Watkins students indicated they prefer to leave it just where it is, a 7:40 start to their day.
Many LHWHS students either participate in a wide variety of after-school activities (music, drama, sports), hold part-time jobs or want to jump start their homework assignments. They get out at 2:20 p.m. daily.
A handful of elementary school parents have shown interest in having their children’s school day start a little earlier than they presently do: (8:55 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.)
In the end, with so much changing in the district (a new superintendent and high school principal to be hired); the opening of a new building (the new Fifth Grade Center). the school board voted to maintain the status quo.
The high school will maintain its 7:40 a.m., start; with middle school starting next at 8:10 a.m. and elementary schools at 8:55 a.m.
That helps to keep the bus schedules in order. Ladue uses the same fleet to first ferry high school students, then turns around and transports middle and elementary students.
Lets walk to school
Ladue is asking some high school students to walk a little further to school, cutting the number of high school buses needed from 19 to 13 per day.
Board member Jeff Kopolow said he favored an option that simply didn’t exist. He thinks high school students require more sleep and would benefit from a much later start like 9:30 a.m.
A parent, who lives on Stacy Drive in Olivette disagreed. She asked her own son about adjusting the school schedule. He said if the day starts just a half-hour later, he will just sleep a half hour longer, and nothing would be gained.
School board member Andy Bresler looked at all the data and pronounced the decision to be a standoff.
“There are such subtle little differences (of opinions), no reason to change,” he said.
Jason Buckner, the district’s chief financial officer worked with stakeholders and said they had little preference for change.
Push for a later start
Board member Ken Smith, a teacher in the Pattonville School District pushed for a later start at the high school. He reasoned, students should not be making that decision.
“It’s not a matter of what students want, more its a matter of what they need,” said Smith.
By a vote of 5-1, the bell schedule and length of day (6 hours, 50 minutes) will remain the same throughout the district. Smith was the only member to vote nay.