OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Osceola County school leaders are considering a major shake-up in high school start times next year. Most high schools in Osceola County start around 7 a.m. Many high school seniors said waking up before dawn affects their learning, especially in their first period class.
“We’re not really there. I mean, we’re there, but we would rather be asleep,” said student Angel Sanchez. Board member Jay Wheeler said the changes next year are based on science and studies showing high school-aged students perform better when their school day starts later. “Teenagers function better later in the day. They stay up later at night, and these children need more sleep. And staff does too,” Wheeler said. Wheeler showed Channel 9 the options recently presented to the school board. One would have high school students starting at the same time as middle school students. That plan would require more school buses and drivers, and could cost millions. Another option would be to swap middle and high school times. “No matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy. So the real bottom line is doing the right thing for our kids,” Wheeler said. Students said the right thing is to make sure they’re getting more sleep. “In the morning, we’re so tired. We’re dead. First period, it’s like we’re still trying to wake up,” said student Armando Gomez. Another option that leaders are considering is to shift all school start times by one hour.