Official: Wichita high schools will no longer have late-start Wednesdays

Wichita high school students, say goodbye to late-start Wednesdays.

Beginning this fall, most high schools will start at 8 a.m. every day, including Wednesdays, as compared to the past several years, when school has started at 8:20 a.m., said Bill Faflick, assistant superintendent of secondary schools for the Wichita district.

Since 2006, the late start allowed teachers to confer with colleagues for an hour before school on Wednesdays – a practice known as professional learning communities.

It allowed students a few more minutes once a week to sleep, grab breakfast, visit with friends or finish homework.

Teachers will continue to meet before school on Wednesdays, but for only 40 minutes, Faflick said.

Northeast Magnet High School will continue its 7 a.m. start.

“Being able to focus on learning every day right out of the gate is going to be a boost,” Faflick said.

“We hate to give up the time for collaboration and for staff to get together at the high school level, because it’s in short supply already. But the tradeoff of getting the kids in class and having that routine … will benefit everybody.”

Faflick said concerns about excessive tardies and absences on Wednesdays prompted principals to make the change.

Buses ran at the regular times on those days, and high school buildings were open by 7:45 a.m. or earlier, Faflick said. Security officers, counselors and other staff members supervised hallways and common areas until teachers reported to their rooms at 8:10 a.m.

Even so, he said, principals reported more students “milling about and just not getting to class on time” on Wednesdays, Faflick said.

“They said, ‘Yeah, we have more absences and especially more tardies, and it just takes us a while to get the school day started,’ ” he said.

“Now they’ll get dropped (off) and go straight to class. Now Wednesday will be just like those other days.”

A contract approved by Wichita teachers in 2009 cut PLC time in half, to about 11 hours a year. Professional development time and other issues still are being negotiated as part of teacher contract talks this year.