Noblesville schools approve adjusted start times for 2015-16

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Thousands of elementary school students are going to be getting an early wake up call soon, heading to school before their older brothers and sisters.

The Noblesville School District announced it will alter school start times for all of its students, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. That change is being implemented to address the energy level and alertness for students in their morning classes.

"Changing school start times, while a challenging adjustment for some families in the short term, will help forward our objective of doing what's best academically for our students in the long run," said Superintendent Dr. Libbie Conner.

As the mom of teenagers, Kim Baker knows the power of sleep on their success on the field and in school.

"Sure they'll be more alert if they get more sleep," Baker said. "I see them walking out of the house in the morning like little zombies, they're so tired!"

That's why Baker supports the new decision in Noblesville to change school start times, giving older students a later start.

"I get the 'Oh mom, can I please sleep in for an hour?' So that would be his permission to sleep in for an hour," Baker said.

It's an issue that's been debated for a decade in districts across central Indiana, whether teens' test scores and attention would improve if they didn't have to get up so early.

Now, after two years of studies and parent surveys, Noblesville will adjust the start times.

That will mean an early wake up call for younger kids. Elementary students would tentatively start school at 8:00 instead of 8:40. Middle and high schoolers would start at 8:45 instead of 7:35.

But not everyone likes the plan.

"That's going to put their practices later, getting home later, you know, that's gonna interfere with homework and everything else," said parent Richard Mise. "Plus, unless families have a stay at home parent, it's going to be harder on sitters and everything else."

Tracy Gaskill is a working mom, who right now, counts on her older daughter to watch the younger one after school. With this change, her little one will get home first.

"It would mean she'd have to get off the bus and sit at home for an hour by herself or I would have to make alternate arrangements," Gaskill said. "I think it's going to create more of a headache in the long run than it's actually to solve any problems.

But Noblesville school leaders say this change will boost student energy and lead to greater academic success.

Baker agrees.

"I find myself feeding my kids at (;00 at night and then trying to get them to bed so they can get up at 6 a.m. and catch the bus at 7:00," Baker said, "so I think would be great if they started school later."

Originally, Noblesville was going to roll out the new start times next school year. They decided to delay by a year so schools and families can better prepare and plan for the changes.

The student schedules are tentative, with final start times announced in 2015.