C’mon just 5 more minutes - Ridgewood School District asks community about later start times

A Bergen County school district is taking on a national debate about school start times by sending a survey on the subject to the community.
“I think at least 8:45 a.m. at the earliest,” says high school senior Anastasia Shevchenko. “That’s a perfect time to start.”
The results of the district’s “Alternative Schedules” survey confirm what many already suspect – 60% of responding high school students say that the current start time of 7:45 a.m. is too early. That number drops to 50% for parents and it drops again to 11% among teachers who want a later start time.
“The feedback from the high school in particular, there was definitely interest in considering modifying the start and end of school time,” says Ridgewood Board of Education president Hyun-Ju Kwak.
Kwak commissioned the survey earlier this year. The district is considering delaying the start of the high school and middle school. It is something other New Jersey school districts have already done. The survey went out to the entire Ridgewood community.
“We really want to have comprehensive feedback on the impact of our overall community, not just our school population,” Kwak says.
While the survey gives an idea of what parents, staff and students think about changing schedules, there are still a lot of other factors that will have to be considered in making the change happen.
“One of the major concerns is what happens as you go later? What happens to the co-curricular and sports, the athletic commitments?” asks Kwak.
Other aspects to consider include bussing costs and scheduling, teacher contracts, outside family commitments and traffic issues.
Shevchenko’s mother says she is happy the entire community was included in the process.
“We need to see where everyone is at – and everyone’s preference,” says Julia Shevchenko.
The school board says the process will take time, meaning Shevchenko and her fellow seniors will miss out on a later start time.
“It’s disappointing - but hopefully I'll schedule later classes when I start college,” she says.
The next step is to take the survey data and come up with different schedule options.
The survey also showed that most elementary school families do not want to see changes to that schedule, so the plan is to keep it as is. The full results of the survey can be found HERE.