2012-07-20 / Front Page

New hours for MHS

School will start 30 minutes later
By Darleen Principe

Moorpark High School students will begin their school day a half hour later at 8 a.m., effective the 2012-13 school year, officials announced.

Prior to the new schedule, classes at MHS began at 7:30 a.m. and continued for six periods until 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The new 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily schedule goes into effect the first day of school on Aug. 29.

“I think that the students are going to have a little bit extra sleep—of much-needed sleep—according to the studies we looked at,” said Ron LaGuardia, Moorpark school board member. “It’s universally held that students that age need nine hours of sleep per night to function optimally.

“It’s quite common for students to be getting quite a bit less sleep with extracurricular activities and homework, so the extra 30 minutes means something.”

Implementing a later start time at MHS has been a recurring topic of conversation among Moorpark Unified School District officials for many years.

But prior to 2008, the later start time at MHS would have conflicted with the district’s limited school bus services.

“That’s no longer an issue,” LaGuardia said.

Due to massive state budget cuts four years ago, the school board decided to eliminate costly school bus services for Moorpark’s 2,400 high school students.

“With the elimination of busing to the high school, it made it possible to set a more decent start time, something a little more traditional,” said Richard Gillis, president of the Moorpark Educators Association, the teachers’ union.

Earlier this year, a five-person subcommittee consisting of MUSD board members and administrators met to discuss the pros and cons of implementing a later start time.

The subcommittee looked at multiple studies, including one by the National Sleep Foundation that shows sleep deprivation may cause extreme moodiness, poor performance in school and aggression.

They also found that the majority of high schools throughout Ventura County start classes at 8 a.m. or later, LaGuardia said.

Highlights of the discussion were relayed to the entire school board on Feb. 14, and the trustees unanimously agreed to pursue the change.

Shortly after the decision, another committee, consisting of MUSD superintendent Teri Williams, MHS principal Carrie Pentis, several high school teachers, administrators and parents from the community created a formal proposal to start high school classes at 8 a.m.

The proposal, which also gives the high school the option to create a zero period beginning at 7 a.m., was then brought to the teachers’ union for approval.

“It wasn’t something we just threw out there and decided,” LaGuardia said. “The community and teachers were involved in the decision.”

Gillis said the majority of the high school faculty agreed that 8 a.m. was a more reasonable start time, and that it “adds more possibilities.”

“We’re seeing that for the future of public education, we’re going to have to be coming up with some flexible and creative scheduling for a variety of different reasons,” Gillis said. “Today’s crop of kids . . . may want to start school later or earlier and this is a first step towards making that a possibility.”

Gillis said today’s generation of high school students may want to work more or participate in specialized activities outside of school, which is why the public education system as a whole is looking for creating more flexibility in scheduling.

“In the future, it’s possible we’ll see high school schedules look more like college schedules,” Gillis said.

More details about the MHS bell schedule will be available next month.

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