Shawnee High Schoolers are circulating a petition opposing their new lunch break schedule — 40 minutes — citing it's not long enough to leave campus to eat and make it back in time for class.

Shawnee High Schoolers are circulating a petition opposing their new lunch break schedule — 40 minutes — citing it's not long enough to leave campus to eat and make it back in time for class.

“Students are speeding and running lights/stop signs just to meet the time criteria that Shawnee High School dropped on us this year (2017-2018),” the petition reads. “It was already a struggle with 50 minutes, but not as bad.”

The lunch time shift this year stems from the Shawnee Public Schools district changing from a two-tiered system to a three-tiered bus route. In a past school board meeting, the district discussed how to address its struggle with bus driver retention, as well as seeking options to cut costs — which they believed could be done with certain expenses associated with the bus fleet — if the tiered system was changed.

As a result, to accommodate the bussing solution, all SPS schools received minor tweaks and changes in the previous years' schedules. As well as later start (8:45 a.m. most weekdays, and 9:20 a.m. Wednesdays) and end times, high schoolers got 10 minutes shaved off their lunch break.

The students want that 10 minutes back, the petition states.

SHS Senior Ricky Divelbiss, 17, said he and a couple friends started the petition Wednesday afternoon and it has, so far, gathered 155 signatures — and it may be gaining momentum.

“I have people constantly messaging me asking to sign the petition tomorrow,” he said Wednesday evening.

Divelbiss explains in the petition that Shawnee is very busy and has a lot of traffic around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“With the school parking lot being as crowded as it is, it takes at least 10 minutes just to leave the parking lot,” Divelbiss said. “They shortened our lunch by 10 minutes this year and added it to two of our class periods to accommodate for the time used for morning and afternoon announcements.”

Divelbiss said he believes there are a lot of good things happening at SHS, but he feels like this is something that could be improved.

“I feel students are leaving and coming back to school late and missing out on their education,” he said.

On Wednesday evening SPS District Superintendent Dr. April Grace said she was not aware of the petition.

“The lunch period was not substantially decreased,” she said, “as I recall the lunch was only decreased by 10 minutes.”

She said it's understandable that students would not be in favor of their lunch period being slimmed down a little.

“Most teenagers would likely always be in favor of more free time and more time to go out to lunch,” she said. “Many school districts across the state have closed campus at lunch and (have) even shorter lunch periods.”

Students do still have the option to eat on campus.

“Our Food and Nutrition program here in Shawnee is one of the best I have ever encountered and is very affordable,” she said. “Certainly students have the option to go off campus for lunch or stay on campus.” She said they, likewise, have the option as to whether to obey the traffic laws.

“Change is always difficult for any of us,” she said.

Watch for updates.