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Students debate school start times at town hall

February 13, 2018

More than 150 parents, students, and community members joined district and school leaders for our second Town Hall Meeting of the school year on Monday night at Leland High School. Before participating in an hour-long open forum, they were treated to a public policy debate led by students from Leland’s nationally-recognized speech and debate program.

A recent proposal from the state legislature to require all middle and high schools in California to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. was a hot topic at our September 2017 town hall, so we wanted to take this opportunity to get the pulse of our community. Two student teams coached by the inimitable Gay Brasher debated the pros and cons of later start times.

The audience was polled for their opinion via text before and afterwards, and the student arguments against the change proved effective. Prior to the debate, 53% of guests were supportive of later start times, with 39% opposed and 8% not sure. After 30 minutes of spirited back-and-forth, only 51% supported later start times, with 43% opposing and 6% unsure. But despite the shift, the only consensus is that there is no consensus on this complicated topic.

As a district, we put our students first and will support any policies that help them succeed. We believe that local districts and schools should continue to have the opportunity to establish bell schedules that work best for their students and programs. If a change comes from the state level, we will do all that we can to make the transition as smooth as possible.

In the meantime, we appreciate your input on this and any other topic that’s important to you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by engaging with us on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SanJoseUnified.

Following up, we will share responses to all the questions, comments, and ideas we heard on Monday. Stay tuned to this space, and save the date for our final town hall of the school year on the evening of April 30th at Lincoln High School.

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