BLOG: 7:17 a.m. School Start Time - Whose Idea Was That?

How, when, and why does SPHS start at 7:17 a.m.? Help build a community history.

At Start School Later we're trying to figure out just how, when, and why anyone got the idea of starting school at 7:17 a.m. Can you help us create a community history?

Some people who grew up here seem to think "it's always been that way." Others insist that AACPS moved up the clock without public input back in the 70s.

Of course, the answers vary with the age of the person, as well as the shakiness of most of our memories. It's hard to find reliable records of school hours.

Here's the story as told by a veteran teacher: In 1967, when this teacher first began teaching, Anne Arundel County (AACPS) high schools all began at 8:10 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m. Due to construction issues in the 1970s, however, the time shifted to 8:40 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. In 1976, this time was changed from 7:45  a.m. to 2 p.m. - presumably to allow for more efficient busing.

A few years later the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) mandated that students had to spend more "clock time" in school. So AACPS decided to add 15 minutes to the day by going from 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

At the last minute, the teacher said, "a curve was thrown," and the extra 15 minutes were added at the beginning of the day, resulting in a 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  start time. He said that "many reasons were given on the street" for this last minute curve, including demands for sports practices and fast food jobs beginning at 3 p.m. and running until 9 or 10 p.m.

A few years later, when MSDE required even more class "clock time" and after-school demands increased, the end time was made even earlier - 1:55 p.m. - and the start time moved even further up to 7:17 a.m.! In the 2000s, the end time was changed back to 2:05 to add a few more minutes to the school day.

Does this story sound right to you? Certainly, the changing hours this teacher recalls over the years help explain why different people have conflicting memories about when school started "back in the day." But it would be helpful to hear from others, so if you if you remember SPHS hours back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s, please help us reconstruct this history. Thanks!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mom3SP January 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Sometimes the bus companies/drivers' unions (if any) are a factor. Maybe their workers want to go to second jobs earlier, or maybe they'd love to start later.
Hamilton Tyler January 27, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Unions are not an issue with the bus drivers. The bus schedule is put together using a bunch of difference companies as well as some buses owned by the county. I don't think most bus drivers work second jobs between morning and afternoon because there is only 3 hours or so between the shifts.
Sharon Folts January 27, 2012 at 03:09 AM
The pressure for better MSA scores also drives the "need" for more "clock time".
Chet Brewer January 28, 2012 at 01:03 AM
My only other reference was growing up in Texas in the early 70's my high school had two start times 8:00 - 3:00 and 9:00 - 4:00. I thought 8 was too early as a teenager, I hate watching my kids catching the bus at 6:45. My son in contrast loves his 8 AM class in college cause it feels late to him :-)
Mother of 4 March 13, 2012 at 12:47 PM
The first time I heard how early SPHS started was right after giving birth to my first born. My husband told me after he had gone to work early one day. I couldn't believe it. I nearly cried, (postpartum blues), and thought, "How am I going to to get my son off to school that early when he is in HS. Well, I'm doing it. He is a Senior this year. But it breaks my heart to see how tired all of my children are. My middle school children are taking their MSA tests this week and next. I can't believe they have them doing it this week after Spring Forward with the clocks.


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