Oklahoma City Schools Save $700k with Later Start Times

(Photo: Public Domain, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Public Domain, Creative Commons)

Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) have determined that seven schools will start and end later in the day than they did last school year. District officials said doing so will save $700,000 in transportation costs.

Beginning August 1, Classen School of Advanced Studies and six elementary schools will become Tier 3 schools and will start at 9:10 a.m. and close at 4:00 p.m., says Tim Willert of the Oklahoman. Last year Classen began at 7:35 a.m. and ended at 2:25 p.m.

District Director of Media Relations Mark Myers said the money will be saved by scrapping the need for 18 additional drivers and bus routes. Fewer buses, said Myers, means a decrease in fuel costs and less funding for drivers, oil changes, tires, and repairs.

"We understand that moving seven schools to the Tier 3 start time may be an inconvenience for some families," he said. "But with this plan, we are able to save teacher jobs, and our school leadership is looking at innovative ways of making the best use of this time."

Parents have given the change mixed reviews because the alteration will affect after-school programs, work schedules, and homework schedules.

But Bryan Grigsby was among the parents who embraced the changes. He has sons who attend Classen and Cleveland Elementary, which began classes last school year at 8:20 a.m. and ended at 3:10 p.m. Grigsby said since he owned his business, he can set his own time and having a later wake-up time will make getting kids out of bed easier.

Roughly 48 elementary schools in the district will start at 8:20 a.m. and finish at 3:10 p.m. Six high schools and four middle schools will continue to open at 7:35 a.m. and conclude at 2:25.

The Oklahoma City Public Schools district is launching several new cost-cutting policies for the 2016-2017 academic year to correct a $30 million budget deficit, including eliminating 200 teaching jobs and 90 administrative positions.

Austin Prickett, reporting for KOKH-TV, explains that each school in the district is categorized as one of three tiers as far as school hours are concerned. Tier 1 schools are open from 7:35 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. Tier 2 schools open at 8:20 a.m. and close at 3:10 p.m.

Some parents, said KOCO-TV's Crystal Price, have pointed out that starting schools' first class later is a way to keep kids more attentive in class. Studies have shown that when young people get the proper amount of sleep, they are more likely to do better in school.

Myers added that the Tier 3 schools are working on before-school activities for students, which will allow parents who start their jobs earlier than 9:10 a.m. to avoid being late to their work. Over 3,000 students will be affected by the new policy.

In a news release, the National Sleep Foundation announced a new report on recommendations for appropriate sleep duration. The Foundation gathered experts from the fields of sleep, anatomy, and physiology who agreed with several ranges.

Preschoolers should sleep 10 to 13 hours, while school-age kids should be sleeping between 9 and 11 hours a night. And teenagers, say the experts, should sleep 8 to 10 hours. Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., and chairperson of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, said:

"This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety."

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