T-Swizzle goes down in flames


Jack Whistler , Reporter

Waking up at 6:00 am is certainly no joy and all schools in the Durango 9-R school district start earlier in the morning than they should. A study done in 2014 by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 93 percent of high schools and 83 percent of middle schools in America started before 8:30 am. The CDC believes that schools shouldn’t start before 8:30, mostly because it affects the health of teens.

“I wake up around 6:00, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, eat breakfast, and go out the door,” said Fr. Madison Marshall.

Fr. Sylvia Reyes has a similar morning routine. Both students believe that the current school start time for DHS is fine, but when asked if they would prefer it later, they said they wouldn’t mind if it were.

“As a generation we are sleep deprived but it wouldn’t really matter much to shift the school start time by only 15-30 minutes,” said Reyes.

To change school start times in Durango to significantly impact teen health, middle and high schools would have to start later than half an hour after the original start time. Some students claim that school starting at 9:00 sounds like a more appealing option.

“If school started later, though, it would have to end later. It’s required by the state that we have students go to school for a certain amount of minutes,” said Superintendent Dan Snowberger.

Snowberger isn’t opposed to schools starting later, but he said no one has previously expressed concern about it. Although if enough students wanted to advocate, they could stand up to change the issue.

In addition, a time shift would affect after-school athletics and activities. Coaches and students would have to alter their schedules, which could conflict with other events in student lives.

“There’s also the fact that the kids driven to school by parents need to get to work at a certain time and need to leave their child somewhere where they can be under proper care, that place being school,” said Snowberger.

If schools start after work, parents don’t have a lot of options. They could have their kids ride the bus, but there’s also the issue that the school district already spends $1.3 million on transportation a year, traveling nearly half a million miles annually. All the kids who used to be driven to school by parents would need to ride buses, so there would need to be more buses.

“It’s difficult to hire bus drivers, even though we are currently fully staffed,” said Snowberger.

Changing school start times would require adding transportation, which would cost a lot more money than what the district already spends, and it would disrupt a lot of people’s schedules.

“School start times haven’t changed in the six years that I’ve been superintendent, but, if the community expressed concern, and wanted to change school start times, we would probably make it happen. Myself and the cabinet officers would recommend the idea to the school board,” said Snowberger.

School districts in Colorado such as Greeley-Evans and Cherry Creek have recently made their high schools begin later, while also making certain adjustments to make it possible. For example, Greeley fixed the financial problem by taking bus transportation away from high schoolers and giving them free transportation on city buses. Although, Durango may not be able to make this same adjustment.

The Seattle public school district is one of the largest in the country to make a shift in school start times, and made a shift last year to start schools at 8:45 am with plans to push it to 9:00 am this year. So clearly it’s possible, but all these school districts share a common problem that Durango would also have to get around: funding for bus transportation.

Can our beloved small town school district find a way around these problems? Is all this chaos really worth the extra sleep or should we just be content with how early we go to school?