School could begin 10 minutes earlier next year for Wichita schools

Wichita Public Schools (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita school leaders are considering a plan to start the school day 10 minutes earlier next year. It’s a move that’s all about safety, according to some parents.

“For us, I just think there’s more traffic there when we’re walking home, and the streets are crowded,” says Bree Cox, parent. “There’s potential for wrecks. We’re walking down Hillside and Douglas which are both places where we see a lot of wrecks. So, yeah, we didn’t have that problem when we had an earlier release time. It was much calmer and easier to get home.”

Bree says a new start time for schools would mean she picks up her daughter 10 minutes earlier, and she says the move could make all the difference for safety.

Some school leaders say safety is a consideration for pondering the move.

“We have been looking at the longer school day (begun last school year) and how do we adjust that to meet the needs of our families better? And by moving those beginning times by 10 minutes forward that pushes the ending time up by 10 minutes as well,” says USD 259 School Board President Sheril Logan. “It gets our elementary students home a little earlier so they are not getting out right during that rush hour traffic. I have grandkids in the district so I understand perfectly.”

Logan says she does not speak for the entire school board but says they will have a discussion to consider the idea at Monday night’s school board meeting. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at North High School.

Logan says the school board went to a longer school day last year adding a half hour to each day. That move gave the district the option to shorten the school year by 15 days. That move allowed the district to save roughly $3 million.

“The reason we made the change last year was because we could save $3 million and we didn’t have to release custodians and librarians,” says Logan. “So, this year we’ve made the decision that we’re going to keep the longer day, but we’re now saying can we now kind of help our parents a little bit at least by moving everything up 10 minutes.”

Logan says the school board had to make tough decisions last year to meet stagnant funding from the state. School grants that fund our schools were stagnant. That funding did not take into account increases for things like higher insurance costs, higher electric costs, and other day-to-day operations that saw increases in the normal operations of a school district with roughly 50,000 kids.

While the school board says it will continue to save money by keeping the longer school day, there will be a debate on start times Monday night.

“I’ve heard from both elementary and secondary parents,” says Logan. “The elementary parents are really in favor of it because they want their kids out a little bit earlier. The secondary parents, it’s mixed. Some of them feel like it’s not going to affect them very much so it’s kind of trying to make the right decision that meets everybody’s needs.”

For parents like Bree, the idea makes sense.

“I hope they consider it,” says Bree. “It would help.”

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