Virginia Beach School Board start time fiasco

Ana Costanzo, Staff Writer

By Ana Costanzo

Weighed down by the extra pounds strapped to their backs, high school students—droopy-eyed and still delirious from the early morning rush—trudge into Princess Anne High School on any given Monday. While school is not the ideal place for sleep-deprived persons, it is the hangout for complaining of early start times. Apparently, the Virginia Beach School Board (VBSB) took the liberty to correct this 7:20 issue. 

In 2018, the VBSB curated a survey to scope the benefits and challenges of changing school start times. When developing options for start times, the VBSB considered the following factors: bus transportation; Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) stakeholder opinions on start times; “relevant research studies on adolescent sleep patterns, start times, social-emotional needs, academic achievement, student attendance, and graduation data”; facility needs to support the shift in times; VBCPS community opinion (through forums) for feedback on school start time options; and a communication plan outline for the changes to school start times, according to a Department of School Leadership document titled “School Start Times: Community Feedback Survey Results.” 

They did their research. But their implementation is an otherwise divisive decision. 

According to WTKR, an Oct. 8 meeting foresaw substantial school start time changes as VBCPS Senior Executive for High Schools Daniel Keever recommended the following for school start times beginning in 2020 (read at your own discretion): 

Elementary A Schools: 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Elementary B: Schools: 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Middle Schools: 8:40 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.

High Schools: 9:20 a.m. – 4:10 p.m.

Certainly students never expected this. For when do adults actually listen?

Well, now they do, recommending high schoolers have two extra hours in the morning to do whatever they… want. Oh dear. 

As it is, One Lunch provides students with boredom outlets; this extra time in the morning will surmount to nothing but students wanting to get to class early (say 7:20) in order to get the day over with. Instead of ripping the band-aid off cooly and effectively, the VBSB proposes an extensive waiting period for the band-aid’s goo to sear into the flesh whilst one cautiously upholds a corner of the adhesive and begins to tug, tug, tug. 

This change in high school start times virtually does nothing for students or faculty. 

According to a recent PAHS survey regarding the school start time, an overwhelming majority of teachers and students (89.7% percent with a sample population of 602) are against the proposed solution, instead preferring the current start time. One can only imagine what it means for younger adolescents. Is this really helping anyone? 

Fortunately, the VBSB has yet to approve of this proposal. 

Scouting this change for years, however, these members are unlikely to withhold this change in start times.

At least the sun will guard the school entrance as students shuffle into a fluorescent-lit building — still droopy-eyed and delirious from the late-morning rush.