New year, new times

Changes are in tow for students, faculty as start times change to 8:50 a.m. next school year.

The 2016-2017 school year will have a big change from previous years. An Iowa City Community School District meeting earlier this year decided to change start times across the district, with West High starting at 8:50 a.m. in compliance with the multitude of complaints from some school parents.
Issues have already arisen concerning the new times and the safety of students participating in extracurricular activities.

Rumors have been circulating about the possibility of early bird classes and whether some extracurriculars will meet in the morning.

“We have looked very closely at early bird classes and we have run into a considerable number of problems,” said Gregg Shoultz, West High’s principal. Due to costs and teacher availability, the return of early bird classes remains undecided until registration for next year’s classes are complete.

If the need arises, early bird classes that may occur will target students who have a full class schedule but also need to go to jobs, take care of younger siblings or have other conflicts that prevent students from attending later afternoon classes.

We have looked very closely at early bird classes and we have run into a considerable number of problems.”

— Gregg Shoultz, West High's Principal

“For now, we are making sure that all students are aware of the regional high school option. Students taking classes in a Kirkwood Academy will be able to get in a full slate of classes and still have seventh hour open,” Shoultz said.

The Kirkwood regional morning classes will occur from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., leaving students to only miss first period next year. The biggest impact on the new time schedule will be the afternoon Kirkwood and PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) classes, in which students will leave during sixth period.

Along with the possibility of early bird classes, some extracurriculars may meet in the morning as well.

“A [big] concern would be how late we are going in the day, and how that will impact students staying very late in the day,” said West High’s Assistant Principal Colby Miller. With the implementation of an earlier time schedule, extracurricular activities will have to be moved to the morning, or have some time reserved for the morning.

“We are still looking into which activities will likely move to the morning,” Shoultz said.

Sports practices currently occurring in the morning will continue to meet in the morning next year. Jazz band and the dance team are actively seeking to move practices to before school and some club meetings may occur in the morning. However, these will be determined at a later date. The schedule for extracurriculars at West High has not been decided as of now.

Another conflict has arisen facing sports using off-site facilities. The times scheduled in agreement with the facilities does not correspond with West High’s new time schedule.

“A big problem for us is swimming. We have an agreement with the Coralville [recreation] center to have the swimming pool from 3:30 to 6:30 [p.m.] and this has to cover both junior high and high school swimming,” Shoultz said.

Some swimming activities may have to move to the morning, but nothing is determined yet.

“Another challenge will be outdoor sports that don’t have lights,” Shoultz said.

Along with practice times, another issue to occur will be game times.

“We will see more missed school time with the [competitions] out of town,” said Junior High Sports Director Jeff Wiek.
Students will leave school earlier next year for out-of-town games, which leads to the dilemma of rescheduling times with the Cedar Rapids School District.

“This creates a problem with the Cedar Rapid schools…they get out much earlier than us. When they want to play 3:30 [p.m.], we can’t until 4:30 [p.m.],” Wiek said.

Rescheduling times for games has not been finalized, and will likely be set so students only miss part of seventh period.