Ohio County Board of Education Debates, Tables Start Time Survey | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Wheeling Park High School Principal Meredith Dailer, left, at podium, speaks to board of education members about the lock down at Wheeling Park High School Nov. 17. She was joined by Deputy Chad Clatterbuck, PRO at WPHS; Ohio County Chief Deputy John Schultz; and Wheeling Police Officer Brandon Hoehn, prevention resource officer at WPHS;

WHEELING – Ohio County Schools wants to survey students, parents and staff as to their thoughts on later school start times at Wheeling Park High School – but that survey is being delayed now as board of education members further discuss just what that survey will ask.

David Crumm, director of operations for Ohio County Schools, presented a proposed later start survey before board of education members Monday night. Its wording and content were debated for about 30 minutes before board president Andy Garber made the motion to table it.

At the request of board member Molly Aderholt, the proposed survey contains links to articles providing scientific information regarding the benefits of later school start times for high school students.

Member Pete Chacalos argued that if the survey contains links to the benefits of later start times, it should also make note of the expected cons.

Member Grace Norton said the questions asked in the survey suggested a “push poll” toward later start times, and she wants more discussion about the effect school start times have on elementary and middle school students. One suggested plan would have them starting earlier in the morning to accommodate the later start times at the high school.

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Ohio County Board of Education member David Croft,left, and board president Andy Garber speak on school start times during Monday night’s board meeting.

Member David Croft said he believed those checking “no” on later start times should have to explain why they believe later start times are a bad thing for high school students.

“I disagree with that,” Garber said. “I feel if a parent wants to vote ‘no’ or ‘yes’ that is their opinion and it should count. Why do they have to designate their reasons?

“This is a survey to determine if the community and our stakeholders want to have a change in the schedules. Having to write a narrative is not fair.”

Chacalos said as a parent or teacher if he votes ‘no,’ “it’s none of your business whether I vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

“It needs to be cut and dry, and we need to do it. Period,” he continued.

Aderholt said she is not giving up on her initial call to have students at WPHS – who currently start at 7:20 a.m. – to start an hour later.

The school district contracted last year with the Edulog consulting company to determine how bus routes could be reconfigured to accommodate a later high school start time.

While one of Edulog’s findings had the high school students starting later and most of the younger students starting much younger, a second would have had all students starting the day at least a half-hour later.

Scientific studies have shown that high school students who have more sleep do better in school, have better mental health and fewer athletic injuries, Aderholt said.

Many high school students and teachers, though, have expressed issues with later start times – which also mean a later end to the school day. Many students have jobs after school, or have to get home before younger siblings for childcare purposes.

Other students, meanwhile, participate in extracurricular activities that would be affected by later start times.

“We’re leaving out the opinion of the students. What do they think?” Garber asked. “Do they feel sleep-deprived? Do they feel the current schedule is conducive to less learning.

“The last time I checked we had a lot of successful students at Wheeling Park High School. Are they unhappy with the way things are happening?”

Aderholt suggested the students may not know they are sleep-deprived.

“We’re the adults, they are the kids,” she said. “I would love for the students to have a say, but it should not be a deciding factor. We are the people placed in the position to do what is in their best interest.”

But not all students all adolescents, Norton reminded her. She said there could be a situation where first graders are getting on buses when it is still dark.

“They have to have their parents there, anyway,” Aderholt responded.

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