Eight Major Obstacles to Delaying School Start Times
a later release time, which may reduce time available for practice and matches (especially daylight hours). One result of later release times may be greater competition for field and gym space, which may result in the cancellation of some programs (JV and sports like swimming and golf, for example, which often require the use of facilities during off-peak hours). If school gets out later, some athletes might be required to leave class early in order to attend a match. In this case, students may have to choose between a game and a test, a choice no student should have to make.
Despite all these concerns, most districts that have changed their start time have experienced few problems with regard to athletics. Practice times are rescheduled, and in some cases lights are installed so practice can run a little later. Match times are changed so that students do not have to leave class early. Many districts have even seen increased participation in sports (Edina, MN) and improved performance by their teams (Wilton, CT; Nathan Hale, Seattle, WA). Research has shown that sleep deprivation has a severe negative impact on coordination and endurance, so it makes sense that better rested student athletes would perform better.
Also, while athletics are obviously very important to many students and their families, everyone must remember that a school’s first obligation is to provide its students with an environment conducive to learning.
The delay in release time for students also means that students with after-school jobs may be affected. This issue is important for certain students and their families who rely on the extra income to get by. Therefore, the change may disproportionately affect low income families. On the other hand, studies have shown that employers indicate a change in start times has not affected their business or the number of hours their student employees can work. They indicate that extra help is not usually needed until school gets out anyway, so they can easily adjust to the new schedule.
Other researchers have found that students who are employed for more than 15 hours per week are