GBN aligns school start time with GBS

Illustration by Margo Kazak

Illustration by Margo Kazak

Journalistic Writing Class, staff reporters

The District 225 school board officially decided that Glenbrook North’s schedule will align with Glenbrook South’s later start time for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year, according to Dr. Mike Riggle, District 225 superintendent.

Next year, North will begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m, according to GBN Principal Dr. John Finan. Currently, North starts at 7:40 a.m. and ends at 2:55 p.m. The primary reason for the change is to help improve the wellness of students physically and mentally, Finan says, as it will now allow them to receive additional sleep every night.

The idea for a later start for GBN arose in 2015 when the school conducted a survey of students. Many students and faculty members at North were in agreement with the concept of a time shift, according to GBS Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel.

“They collected data from all over the schools in the Central Suburban League and Glenbrook North was the earliest start time,” Fagel said. “They started at 7:40 and [I think] the next earliest time started at 8:00 a.m. or later.”

GBN students were not getting as much sleep as the students at GBS, Finan stated. Studies show that teenage brains are not fully functional until 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. in the morning, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

“With this idea, the importance of sleep in high school students is highly reinforced,” Finan said.

According to Riggle, the main hurdle that had been presented in changing GBN’s schedule has been the bus company. GBS and GBN are currently sharing a bus company called First Student with other local schools, and Fagel says GBN has needed to start earlier to maintain the bus transportation schedule of the other schools.

“The big obstacle in the way was the buses,” Fagel said. “North and South shared buses with the middle and elementary school districts. We were charging the administration with working through that. Remove that obstacle and then we will decide when it’s best for kids to start.”

The negotiation of bus contracts was handled by Dr. R.J. Gravel, assistant superintendent for business. He worked with the bus companies to create a system where GBN could start later; however, it would cost around $32,000 more for the schools.

GBS Academy students will also experience changes because they travel between North and South. South sophomore Katie Durow, like many other Academy students, is opposed to this change because the alignment of schedules will result in the Academy students losing their 30-minute SRT, which results from the travel time and non-matching passing periods.

“If they changed the schedule then SRT would not happen anymore,”  Durow said.  “A lot of us are really upset about that because we don’t have the opportunity to have a full-length SRT in [in Academy].”

GBN mother Laura Callahan, is in favor of this change. She said that new schedule or not, she tends to leave before her daughter, GBN sophomore Nora Callahan, and knows they will be happy about the extra 20 minutes of sleep. Her worry was that practices and other after-school activities will run later, but believes that the trade-off will be worth it.

“[My main concern is] that any sporting activities are going to have to start later now that we’re finishing later,” Callahan said. “I guess [that] means that they’re going to be [out of school] later but they get to sleep in later.”

In the future, many students and a number of faculty members would like to push the times back further than where they stand now, Riggle says. In fact, Riggle believes that an ideal school day would be from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Fagel believes that this change could become a possibility,;however, it would take approximately until the school year of 2021-2022. The National Sleep Foundation supports that giving students more sleep, or the option to get more sleep, gives them time to be ready for their school day.

“Later start equals happier students,” Fagel said.

*Lexi Babich, Connor Bedell, Elizabeth Clary, Aria Jain, Kennedy King, Abby Mckew, Amelie Miller, Sophia Pinc, Chloe Stannard, Eva Zitlow.