By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Across Minnesota and Wisconsin, students and parents are getting ready to go back to school. In just a few days, one of Minnesota’s largest school districts is preparing for a big change.

Start times are changing in St. Paul.

Grade schoolers and high school students will need to set their alarm clocks a little differently this year– and the district explains why it felt the move was necessary.

School starts in one week for St. Paul Public Schools, but for most students they’ll have another big change in their routine. Start times are changing.

For elementary students, they’re moving to an earlier start time of 7:30 a.m. Middle and high school students will start school an hour later at 8:30 a.m.

The change comes after years of debate by the district that ultimately changed start times to try to give secondary school students more sleep.

Research has shown they do better academically and emotionally with proper rest. WCCO talked to high schoolers at the fair about the idea of a later start time.

“I feel like it should be later so then we have more time to sleep,” said Mickaylah Formaneck, a senior at Lakeville South High School.

Others disagree.

“I think it would be harder,” said Jack Pajula, a senior at Mahtomedi High School. “I would honestly go the other way because then you push everything back — it would be, like, what — 7 o’clock football would get done, and then you’re having dinner and getting ready for the next day.”

On the flip side, St. Paul elementary students will start earlier — and get out earlier. Critics have said young students would wait in the dark for buses and parents would need to find after-school care.

“If you have multiple kids it’s hard to get up that early and get them prepared and get them out the door,” parent Jessica Rylander said.

Elementary schools that start at 9:30 a.m. will keep their start times. Grades one through 12 will start school in St. Paul on Sept. 3.

The district said they had to move most elementary students to the earlier start time to be able maintain their three-tier bus schedule.

Kate Raddatz