Utahns split on later school start times. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a poll of 655 registered voters in Utah showed “41 percent agreed that schools should start later, while 49 percent disagreed, and 10 percent said they did not know.”
Advocates for later start times and a longer recess testified recently before the Eden Prairie School Board in Minnesota. Speaking at the January 23 meeting, several people testified that 20 minutes was not a long enough time for recess. Some also spoke in favor of later start times for middle and high school students in this Minnesota school district.
“Later start times could help Canadian teens’ grades,” Science Daily reports. “Researchers found that students from schools that started earlier slept less, were less likely to meet the national sleep recommendations for their age, and were more often tired in the morning.”
Science Daily reports that a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research used “data covering 30,000 students from 362 schools across Canada, from a cross-national survey conducted every four years in more than 40 countries in collaboration with the World Health Organization.”
Start times in the Canadian schools ranged from around 8:00 to 9:30. “We found a strong association between later school start times and better sleep for teens,” says Prof. Frank Elgar, co-author of the study.
The Cherry Creek School District in Colorado might start high school classes an hour later next year. The Star Scottsbluff Herald reports that “parents, students and staff members who responded to a survey last year overwhelmingly supported moving the start time to 8:14 a.m. for high school and 8:50 a.m. for middle school. Elementary schools would start and end earlier.”
Schools will start later for students in South Portland, Maine, next year. The South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Sentry reports that high school classes will start 40 minutes later, while middle school students will begin their day 35 minutes later than the current schedule, which is 7:30 a.m. at the high school and 7:55 at the two middle schools.
The five elementary schools in South Portland will start five minutes later, changing from 9:00 a.m. to 9:05 a.m., according to the school board agenda Proposed 2017-2018 School Start Times.
The Sentry reports that two other Main school districts (Westbrook, Biddeford and Saco) switched to later start times in recent years. Several other school districts are studying it for the 2017-2018 school year.
Westbrook was one of the first Maine school districts to adopt later start times, doing so in 2012. Biddeford and Saco did so last year, while Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth and Kennebunk, among others, all have the concept on the table for the 2017-2018 school year.
Next year schools in Township High School District 214 in Illinois will start school 45 minutes later than the current schedule. The Chicago Tribune reports that four high schools will start at 8:15 and end at 3:10 p.m. Two other high schools with block schedules will start at 8 a.m. and 8:05 a.m.
The new schedule will also allow students to take eight classes in place of a lunch.
According to Wikipedia, “Township High School District 214 is located in Cook County, Illinois. It is the state’s second largest high school district by enrollment. Its headquarters are in Arlington Heights.”
New Paltz school district debates later start times. A parent survey in New Paltz, New York, showed that 57 percent of middle school parents supported delaying the start time to 8:30 a.m. or later, according to The Times Herald-Record. “At the New Paltz middle and high schools, the warning bell sounds at 7:55 a.m. and the first class is at 8 a.m.”
One parent opposing a later start time noted that the New Paltz school district “already has one of the latest high school start times in the state of New York.”
The survey received a 66 percent response rate from students.
“The high school students supported the later start times but were concerned about the impact on afterschool programs and their ability to care for younger siblings,” David Blaiklock of the Virginia-based form K12 Insight, which conducted the survey for the district.
The Times Herald-Record also reported that the Monticello school district is also studying a later start time. Monticello currently has a 7:05 a.m. drop off for grades 6-12.
An op-ed in the Capital Gazette urges the Anne Arundel Board of Education and the County Council to ensure that there’s adequate funding for later school start times. Lisa VanBuskirk said that the school board’s decision to change the high school start time from 7:17 to 7:03 in the 2017-18 school year leaves the start time still too early. This option costs approximately $618,000, which was included in the FY2016 Operating Budget.
VanBuskirk is the chapter leader for Start School Later Anne Arundel County and Start School Later Maryland, volunteer organizations that seek safe and healthy school hours for all grade levels.
“An awful lot of lobbying and work for a 13-minute change?” the Gazette asked September 23, 2016. “Perhaps. But Wednesday’s decision by the county school board to move high school start times back to 7:30 a.m.–form the current preposterously early 7:17–is still a milestone.”
As of next school year — after task force reports, a County Council resolution and budget debates — the advocates for later start times will finally have something to show for their efforts. And it’s far easier to push the door open once you’ve got your foot through it.
On January 10, the Montgomery County Board of Education will discuss concerns regarding the impact of bell times. The Washington Post reports that a teachers’ union in Montgomery County has asked the school board to revert to earlier school start times for elementary schools and return all schools to the schedules they had in 2014-15. The Post reports that the union that represents principals and administrators has made the same request.
In 2015 the high school start times were changes from 7:25 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. “Elementary schools, which open in two waves, now start at 9 a.m. or 9:25 a.m., 10 minutes later than before, and their dismissals come 20 minutes later, so the length of the school day has been extended,” the Post reports.
Many teachers say they notice that elementary school students, especially the youngest, grow tired as the afternoons wear on, said Valerie Coll, a teacher at Flora M. Singer Elementary. “They tucker out,” she said. “Not all students are able to develop the academic stamina.”
The Post reports that school board member Patricia O’Neill, 3rd District, does not back a return to earlier hours at high schools, but she would like to work toward a solution of later-scheduled elementary schools.
Eric Guerci, the student member of the school board, said that leaders of Montgomery’s countywide student government passed a resolution in December against returning to the bell times of the 2014-2015 school year. Although the current hours may not be perfect, he said, many see them as a benefit overall: “They’re seen as representing a positive change.”
Can the best high school in the country thank its 9:15 a.m. start time for its success? For the fifth year in a row, the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas has been ranked the top high school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
“The rankings are based on a wealth of data, including graduation rates and student performance on state proficiency tests and advanced exams, as well as other relevant factors—like the percentage of economically disadvantaged students the schools serve,” Lisa L. Lewis reports. “But there’s one key metric that isn’t tracked despite having a proven impact on academic performance: school start times.”