By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In Richfield, kids at Sheridan Hills Elementary got a high profile welcome from Governor Tim Walz and Commissioner of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker on their first day of school.

“These children all come from different places, our responsibility to them is to give them that high-quality education that allows them to live the lives they want to live,” Walz said.

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For students in St. Paul, it was the first day of new start times. Most elementary school students are going to school an hour earlier at 7:30 a.m., while these middle school students and high schoolers are starting at 8:30 a.m.

“When we look at adolescents there are studies that show they need more sleep, of course, many will say they will just stay up an hour later, we still believe that additional hour in the morning will help them be more awake and alert to start their day,” St. Paul Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard said.

Everything is brand new at St Paul’s newest public school, the E-Stem Middle School, which is actually in Woodbury, that’s right Woodbury. The school district saved tens of millions of dollars by rehabbing an old charter school that was just outside of their district boundary.

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The E-Stem Middle School building cost the district $18 million to buy, a brand new school would have cost upwards of $75 million.

In the end, it all comes down to the kids, 6th grader Angela Harper seemed, well, less than enthusiastic. WCCO asked if she was excited to be back at school, she answered in a whisper, “yes.”

That is not the case for her mom, Tangie Harper.

“I am just ready for them to go back to school, cannot wait, it’s an exciting day for me, I feel like it’s my birthday all over again,” Tangie Harper said.

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A small number of St. Paul elementary schools that have a 9:30 a.m. start did not change their start times.

Esme Murphy