Imbusch Introduces Later Start Time for New School Year

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Tara Gordon

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On August 31, 2016, Walpole High School students started their 2016-2017 school year a little later in the morning than usual due to Principal Stephen Imbusch’s new plan to delay the start of a regular school day. The policy for a later start time, introduced at the tail end of the previous school year, calls for students to report to homeroom at 7:30 a.m., rather than the prior start time of the day at 7:15 a.m. The school day now concludes at 2:05 p.m., five minutes later than last year’s end time of 2 p.m.   

Principal Imbusch implemented a later school time after admitting that the issue was something that he continuously heard about.

Various studies over the years have shown the positive impact that a delayed start to the school day has on high school students.

“I think that a good night’s sleep is probably one of most important things that anyone can have, and that goes for both students and adults. I wanted to move back the school day that would at least help a little” Imbusch said.  

To improve the sleeping habits of Walpole High Students, Principal Imbusch suggested a new start time for the high school.

“It makes a huge difference in your life if you have a good night’s sleep,” Imbusch said, and the later start for Walpole High have received positive feedback from students.

Although an even later start time to the school day would be more beneficial to students, Imbusch claims that change would require a big adjustment for the other schools in the Walpole district.

“We would have to tell everyone they are going later,” said Imbusch, which would further delay the end of the school for elementary school students.

“Elementary school students are barely getting home before dark during the winter,” said Imbusch. With an even later start time, students would be leaving school even later during the winter months.

With only a few weeks into the school year, the small difference in Walpole High School’s start time has started to cause problems with bus schedules within the school system.  

“There’s been some problems district-wise because the buses that leave from the high school get to the middle schools too late. That’s something we’re trying to work on,” said Imbusch.

In addition, some bus drivers are arriving late to elementary schools in the afternoon. In order to avoid this problem, bus drivers are allowed to come earlier in the morning.

 “I told bus drivers in the spring that I don’t care what time they get there in the morning,” said Imbusch.

Although earlier morning arrivals at the school would not benefit students who normally take the bus, it would get all younger students to their respective schools on time.   

The bus routes of the Walpole School District prove to be one of the biggest factors in changing the start and end times of school, as they are the root of the elementary school’s staggered start times.  

“If you were able to add more buses, you could get enough to take all elementary school students to school at the same time,” Imbusch said.  More buses could allow all of the Walpole schools to be delayed in the morning; however, the addition would be of great cost to the town.  

The alternative to a delayed start for all Walpole schools is a switch between the high school and elementary schools, in which younger students would start their school day at 7:30 a.m., while the high school would start as late as 8:00 a.m.

Administration did not pursue the possible switch between the high school and elementary schools due to the impact it would have on the community. “I did not feel like the community was behind a total flip at this point,” said Imbusch.

Despite the possible alternatives, Walpole High will carry on with the fifteen minute delayed start time for the 2016-2017 school year, giving both students and staff more time in the morning.