Bells Ring Later In New Semester

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Students at Payson High School and Rim Country Middle School can enjoy another 30 minutes of sleep or study time when classes reconvene Jan. 3.

For junior Brad Meyocks, the later start time -- 8:30 a.m. rather than 8 a.m. -- is a big plus.

"It'll mean we have 30 more minutes to study and do homework in the morning before school," he said. "That should help all the students with their grades."

The drive to change the hours was spearhead by school administrators including PHS Assistant Principal Tim Fruth.

"It's what's best for kids," he said. "Studies show the adolescent brain needs that extra sleep and rest time to comprehend and achieve."

The later start time was approved Dec. 13 by the school board.

In a poll taken last month by PHS administrators, 97 percent of the faculty, 89 percent of the parents and 90 percent of students agreed with the schedule change.

Meyocks, a member of the golf team, said he voted in favor of the amended school hours partly because it will be good for athletes returning from away games.

"If we don't get home until way after midnight, we can get extra sleep or have more time to do our homework," he said.

The later start time will also benefit students who ride buses.

When school started at 8 a.m., there were some students who boarded buses as early as 6:15 a.m. and arrived at the schools an hour and 10 minutes before classes began. RCMS students spent the down time milling around the school's multipurpose field. Some high school students chose to walk to nearby convenience stores and fast food restaurants.

With the new schedule, all busses will arrive between 8:10 a.m. and 8:20 a.m., allowing ample time for the students to reach their classrooms.

Twelve-year-old Kali Jorgensen thinks the later bus times will help her perform better in school. Jorgensen must be outside before 7 a.m. to catch the bus. Her new pick up time is 7:53 a.m. "That's awesome and I think it's for the better," Jorgensen said. "I pretty much sleep through my first class. I think I'll get a lot more done."

RCMS had adapted to the later start by adjusting its schedules and passing times. At PHS, Channel One -- a student TV news program -- will be eliminated.

The later start time still meets the state's legal requirement for attendance time in class. The two schools will be over the state mandated minimum by 32 minutes per day.

The teachers' workday, 7:50 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. will remain the same.

Classes at RCMS and PHS will continue to be dismissed at 3:10 p.m.

Payson Unified School District bus drivers handed out new transportation schedules to students Dec. 16. The new schedules will also be published Dec. 21 in the Payson Roundup.

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