Start Times For Houston Middle and High Schools To Be Pushed Back

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartJanuary 16, 2018 9:55 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs publicly released its opioid prescription rates across all of its hospitals. It’s the first hospital system in the US to do so.

According to the VA, narcotic painkiller prescriptions from their doctors are down nationwide 41 percent from five years ago. El Paso was the most improved facility in the country, with a 66 percent decrease in prescribing rates.

The agency has faced scrutiny in recent years from lawmakers over its role in the over-prescription of addictive painkillers to veterans.

In 2014, the VA launched its Opioid Safety Initiative to address that problem.

There’s been a growing debate in recent years about when kids should start school in the morning. Research suggests that school times for adolescents – middle and high schoolers – should begin later in the morning to give students adequate time to sleep.

Houston Public Media’s Brien Straw reports that all Houston ISD schools will now have later start times for older students:

Elementary kids will all start school at 7:30 each morning and end their school day at 2:50. For middle and high school children, the day will start at 8:30, and end at 3:50.

According to HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby, that’s a huge change from the current schedule.

“Having 67 different start times, which are the most in the state, and right up there with top in the nation, it’s a little hard to be efficient,” Busby said.

HISD principals used to choose when their schools started and ended classes, but with the change Busby says the district will save a lot of money by streamlining bus schedules.

In December Houston Public Media’s Laura Isensee spoke with UT Medical Branch Doctor Sara Nowakowski, who says early classes aren’t good for teenagers.

“Empirical studies show it impacts academic performance. It will impact athletic performance,” Nowakowski said.

Busby says HISD was aware of the studies, but says it was the vote of 17,000 respondents to an online survey that ultimately swayed their decision.

The new schedule begins with the 2018-19 school year.

Monday, cities across the nation will hold parades and celebrations to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. But in one Texas city, MLK Day festivities won’t be happening as planned.

Organizers of the Toyota North Texas Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Arlington faced controversy last week for planning to include Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in the celebration. He had been named the honorary grand marshal.

The Arlington NAACP chapter decried the decision, saying that the governor “has done more to damage and undermine African-American and Latino civil and voter rights, than any other modern day Texas governor.”

Since then, the parade has been called off.

The NAACP chapter is calling it a victory, But, city officials say it wasn’t about the protests at all.

“This had absolutely nothing to do with any of the controversy or f that matter anything dealing with Governor Abbot.. the reason is that the permits were not fulfilled,” said Arlington spokesperson Jay Warren, speaking to the Dallas- Fort Worth CBS affiliate.

The event’s organizer also told the station that there had been a budget shortfall of about 60 thousand dollars.