Virginia Beach looking again at changing school start times

VIRGINIA BEACH

The School Board is taking another look at changing school start times.

Board members discussed potential changes during a workshop Tuesday, when they received a packet filled with more than 100 pages of information on the topic.

They’ll likely debate again at a meeting in mid-November, before taking a formal vote toward the end of next month. If they agree that changes should be made, division leaders would take several months talking with the community and forming specific options.

The board would then approve an option at its summer 2019 retreat. Changes would take effect at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Virginia Beach high schools currently begin at 7:20 a.m., elementaries at either 8:10 a.m. or 8:40 a.m., and middles mostly at 9:30 a.m. But, medical experts say older children are more alert later in the morning because their internal clocks tend to keep them up later at night.

Chesapeake is the only division in South Hampton Roads that now begins high schools after 8:30 a.m., though Norfolk has explored joining them.

Virginia Beach has considered changes before. It surveyed students, parents and staff in early 2017, with most backing an effort to develop a schedule with later start times for adolescents.

However, board members stopped moving forward in July 2017, after hearing the price tag could be several million dollars. Part of that came from a need for more buses, but the biggest cost came from putting lights on athletic fields – pushing high schools later would push games and practices into dusk.

The division could use some reversion money from last year’s budget on lights.