School starting times discussed by MNPS Board

Board members of the Metro Nashville School Board took up the topic of later school start times during Tuesday’s board meeting.

The school board asked Metro Schools’ staff to look into what it would take for the district to consider a change in its high school start times, especially because plenty of questions will need to be answered around the controversial subject.

Neighboring Williamson County School’s officials started the conversation but tabled the issue on high school start times earlier this month.

The topic, however, is one that has been on the minds of several Nashville board members, including Vice Chairwoman Jill Speering. Over the past year, the idea has been mentioned several times and was a topic during the tenure of former Director of Schools Jesse Register. But with new superintendent Shawn Joseph putting his spin on the district’s operations, the timing seems right to reignite the conversation, Speering said.

Board Chairwoman Anna Shepherd said the topic is worth exploring, but she can see the merits of an early start.

For one, bus schedules have proved to be a logistical nightmare for the district. Reworking high school times would mean new bus routes for the district’s schools. That’s no simple feat in a county with over 500 square miles, especially when snowfall in the northern parts of Davidson County has caused a complete shutdown of the entire district due to the logistics of bus schedules. There could be a potential cost in changing start times, Joseph warned, due to possibly needing more buses.

Another concern from Shepherd was that many students work or participate in sports after school. She knows many parents will want to have their voice heard.

Board members had mixed opinions, but decided to do more research on the topic to look at the pros and cons of the issue.