Swanton Local Schools officials are considering a later start to the school day, it was announced at Wednesday’s Board of Education.
Swanton high school and middle school students currently start the earliest of any district in Fulton County, according to Superintendent Chris Lake. Swanton High School starts at 7:40 a.m., while Wauseon and Evergreen start at 8 a.m., Delta at 8:10 a.m., and Archbold at 8:15 a.m. Perrysburg recently changed and now starts high school at 8:30 a.m.
Earliest bus pick ups in Swanton are currently around 6:30 a.m.
No change has yet been approved and the hours are not set in stone, but a proposal for Swanton would have the high school hours of 8:15 a.m. to 3:05 p.m., middle school hours 8:15 a.m. to 2:55 p.m., and elementary hours from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Lake laid out several reasons for proposing the change. Health, safety, and academic performance were cited. He said later start times correlate with improved mental and physical health, academic achievement is increased, and there is a reduction in behavioral issues.
“Sleep deprivation among teenagers is a growing health concern,” said Lake. “I know we see it in our kids.”
He also cited the Centers for Disease Control, which said teens who do not get enough sleep have higher risk of being overweight, suffering from symptoms of depression, and performing poorly in school.
“We are attacking this as sort of a health issue for our kids,” said Lake. “I looked at a lot of research over the summer… We know that when kids reach teenage years, they start to change, their natural sleep patterns change and if you’ve ever had a teenager in your house you know that you may have them still wide awake at midnight or 1 a.m.”
There are also students involved in extracurricular activities who may not get home until 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. from an event. They would only then be able to start their homework for the night.
Having closer start times for all grades was mentioned at the meeting. Transportation director Jeff Bella estimated that having the schools all start at about the same time would require 6-7 additional buses. He said there could also be an issue with hiring drivers because they would no longer be full-time.
Benefits sought by the proposed change include better academic performance, increasing attendance, increasing graduation, and improved safety for students as they drive to school, according to Lake.
“We want to start having this discussion early. Get it out there for people, so they can start to see that some sort of change will be coming. We want to give people time to make adjustments,” the superintendent said. “Again, I understand that not everyone’s going to be super happy, but in the end, we know for our kids, we need to make a change.”
The board is expected to vote on start times at either their November or December meeting.
• The Board approved a school resource officer agreement with the Village of Swanton. It is the same as the previous agreement that had the officer at the schools in a part-time capacity. Lee Kusz is the new school resource officer.
• The November board meeting was moved from the 20th to the 13th.
• Several personnel items were approved, including supplemental contracts with Josh Siewert, head baseball coach; Dakota Ulrich, high school basketball cheerleader, and co-football cheerleading; Sharon Marvin, co-football cheerleading; Walter Steele, head girls track coach; Jeffrey Dojcsak, esports advisor; Kim Kahl, LPDC Chair; Bruce Smith, boys basketball assistant; Jeff Taylor, seventh grade football, and middle school wrestling coach; Nick Staler, bowling; and Josh Bragg, boys basketball assistant.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise