GLENS FALLS -- Giving Glens Falls High School students more time to catch Z’s in the morning has led to more A’s.
More than two years after the Board of Education’s decision to move the start time from 7:45 a.m. to 8:26 a.m., effective last September, the controversy over the change has appeared to dissipate.
Principal Mark Stratton said he believes it has been a success because it also reduced the number of late students, which was one of the reasons that prompted the board to make the change.
“People have come to accept the later start time. The faculty and students are starting to see the advantage,” he said.
The percentage of students who were late to school dropped by almost 30 percent, from 9.7 percent during the 2011-2012 year to 6.8 percent in 2012-2013.
Stratton calculated the figure by taking student enrollment, multiplied by 180 days of school and divided by the instances of tardiness.
The number of students failing courses has decreased 5 points, from 13.6 percent to 8.6 percent, which Stratton said could be directly or indirectly linked to the change in start time. He heard anecdotally that teachers noticed that students in early morning classes were more alert, which is in sharp contrast to their attention span under the old start time.
“There was quite a bit of sleepiness,” he said.
The rate for absenteeism dropped sightly from 10.3 percent to 10 percent for all students.
Stratton said he believes the later start time did not affect absenteeism as much because the district does not bus students. In some other districts, students might stay home from school if they miss the bus and cannot get a ride with their parents.
Students have gotten used to the change.
“It seems more people are showing up on time, so it’s working,” said 17-year-old senior Taylor Jacobsen.
Junior Gracie Endieveri, 15, said she used to have to get up at 6 a.m. when school started around 7:30 a.m. Now, she can get some more sleep.
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“I get nine or 10 hours,” she said.
The only downside, according to Endieveri, is students who play sports don’t have much of a break between the end of school and the start of practice. “We get home later,” she said.
Stratton said Athletic Director Arthur Corlew has been a team player and did a great job managing the schedule and coordinating with the other teams in the Foothills Council.
Sixteen-year-old junior Mike Basford, who does soccer, skiing and track, said he enjoys the chance to sleep in.
“I didn’t mind being at school a little bit later,” he said.
There are some detractors.
“I just liked being out of the school earlier,” said 16-year-old junior Jared McIntosh.
He said another issue is students who do sports have to rush to get to practice because school isn’t dismissed until 3:03 p.m. He has heard from teachers that participation in other afterschool activities has dropped because students do not want to stay that late.
The change in start time has also attracted attention in the academic world.
St. Lawrence University professor Pamela Thacher collected data from the students to study the effect of the change on the students’ sleep, academics and health.
University spokesman Ryan Deuel said Thacher has not had an opportunity to analyze the data yet and the study is ongoing.
Stratton said he is glad the Board of Education stuck with its decision. It approved the change in May 2011 and rejected an effort to rescind it later that December — both times in close 5-4 votes.
“I applaud our Board of Education for basically going out on a limb and standing up for what they believed was the right decision for kids,” he said. “We want to help kids be successful. Even though for some, this was not a popular move, it was the right move.”