The will consider a proposal this month for earlier start times for all schools, mainly because of traffic safety concerns.
In a letter to district parents (below), Superintendent Phil Ertl pointed out that a number of accidents and incidents last year could be attributed to traffic congestion.
This is especially true in the West Center Street corridor where , and Eisenhower Elementary stand in a row, all currently start within five minutes of one another, and all start at the height of commuter rush hour.
The district's proposal would also make start and end times consistent for all schools at each level.
High school start times would be most affected, with students expected to be in class by 7:40 a.m. instead of 8. Ertl acknowedged studies that show high school students' sleep patterns might call for later start times rather than earlier.
He countered with his own observation, though, that high school students in the district are being rigorously prepared for challenging careers that could demand an early start to their day – and they might just as well get used to it.
Ertl also pointed out that most other area high schools start and end earlier than Tosa's do now.
Here are the start and end times for high schools in the Greater Metro and Woodland conferences:
- Brown Deer 7:50-3:00
- Cudahy 7:40-3:10
- DSHA 7:50-3:41
- Elmbrook 7:55-3:09
- Greendale 7:24-2:30
- Greenfield 7:10-2:21
- Hamilton 7:20-2:25
- Marquette 8:00-2:48
- Menomonee Falls 8:00-3:10
- New Berlin Eisenhower 7:20-2:20
- New Berlin West 8:00-3:00
- Pewaukee 7:30-2:24
- St. Francis 7:40-2:35
- St. Thomas More 7:34-2:34
- Shorewood 7:35-3:07
- South Milwaukee 7:30-2:48
- West Allis 7:47-3:00
- Whitnall 7:15-2:18
Ertl invited all parents and staff to provide feedback on the Start Time Feedback page on the district website.
Letter from the superintendent
Dear Wauwatosa School District Community,
I am writing to inform you of a proposal that will be brought forward to the School Board in April. This proposal relates to start and end times for the school day for all schools in the Wauwatosa School District. Currently, our start and end times vary across the District. This proposal would have all elementary schools start and end at the same time. The middle schools and high schools, which currently have similar start and end times, would also start and end at the same time.
The proposal is as follows:
- East and West High Schools 7:40 a.m. - 2:50 p.m.
- Whitman and Longfellow 7:50 a.m. - 3:10 p.m.
- All Elementary Schools 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
This proposal primarily comes out of a concern for student safety. Last year, there were a number of student safety situations across the District, including a student being struck by a car on Center Street in front of Eisenhower/West/Whitman. The traffic congestion in the mornings in that area is a daily safety concern. The primary issue is that all three schools have start times within five minutes: West at 8:00 a.m., Eisenhower at 8:03 a.m. and Whitman at 8:05 a.m. We also hope that this will ease some of the traffic congestion on North Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue and 76th Street for students traveling to Lincoln, Longfellow and East. In addition, the School District and the City of Wauwatosa are working together and have hired a traffic consultant to create other street related recommendations for improvement.
In addition to safety issues, changing the times will help with the coordination of teachers that work in more than one school. This would create efficiencies in our staffing that could save money. This change will also help to facilitate more meaningful teacher collaboration meetings across the District when teachers meet with staff from other buildings. At the high school and middle school level, an earlier release time will decrease the number of students who currently miss all or part of their last hour of class due to athletics or other extracurricular activities.
I am aware of the research related to high school students and their sleep patterns suggesting that high schools should be starting later in the morning. I am also aware of the other side of that argument that high school students need to be prepared for life after high school when their work days will be starting early. I do believe that starting 20 minutes earlier will not negatively impact their learning or their attendance. Many high schools in the area start earlier than 7:40 a.m.
I am interested to hear from you. Please fill out the e-form to share your thoughts.