Wayzata elementary schoolers could be rising earlier for new 7:30 a.m. school start times next school year if a proposal is approved to push back the Wayzata High School start time.
Wayzata High School starts at 7:30 a.m., earlier than many neighboring high schools; two elementary schools start 15 minutes afterward.
In July, the Wayzata school board received five school start time options from the Center for Efficient School Operations. One proposed that all elementary schools start at the same time, and another suggested bumping most of the elementary schools to start earlier than the high school.
Superintendent Chace Anderson wrote in a memo to the Wayzata school board that he thinks the best option would start most of the district’s elementary schools at 7:30 a.m. and Wayzata High School at 8:20 a.m. He said in the memo that he thinks it’s the best option because it is backed by sleep-time research for adolescents, information from medical professionals, conversations with staff and his own experiences.
“This scenario is solid, it is in alignment with credible research, it can be implemented with minimal or no financial impact, and it is one that I believe students, families and staff would ‘settle into’ after a relatively short time,” Anderson wrote.
The proposal is sparking backlash from parents who think the start time is too early for elementary students. An online petition against the superintendent’s recommended plan has more than 600 signatures. Comments from parents include safety concerns about their children waiting for the bus in the 6:45 a.m. darkness and having to readjust work schedules to accommodate the change.
Wayzata High School’s start time is the area’s outlier. Eden Prairie High School starts at 7:50 a.m. and Minnetonka High School starts 10 minutes later. Wayzata’s bell rings almost an hour earlier than Edina High School’s 8:25 a.m. start time.
The district is holding an informational meeting Thursday so the community can learn more about the scenarios and the research on start times. A decision is expected at an Oct. 12 board meeting.