Virginia Beach considers later school start times

An editorial in the Virginia Pilot reports that the Virginia Beach school division is trying to determine the best time to begin the school day in hopes of helping students, teachers and parents. “There are many reasons to evaluate the appropriate start times, and the impact on adolescents is just one of many factors.”

What’s impressive is how Virginia Beach is going about the process of determining what, if any, changes would be best. The division’s requests for feedback from students, parents and staff have resulted in nearly 30,000 responses, including more than 20,000 from students and nearly 8,000 from parents.

Those responses give school leaders a lot of good information to consider as they evaluate what would work best. Any changes they make wouldn’t occur before at least the 2018-19 school year.

The Virginia Pilot concludes:

Along with all the important logistical issues involved in determining schedules, it’s important to consider the research about when students are at their peak for learning. It’s not about letting adolescents sleep later; it’s about getting the best performance in the classroom.

California Senate supports later school start times

On May 31, the California Senate passed a bill to prevent all state middle and high schools from starting earlier than 8:30 a.m.  The bill now goes to the Assembly. If approved, the measure would not be implemented until 2020. CBS Sacramento reports that, “Critics, including the California Teachers Association, say local districts, not the state should set their own hours.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune supports the bill, saying that Senate approval of later school times a start for California:

The American Academy of Pediatrics and a long list of sleep experts say starting school days early takes a harsh toll on teens. “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” pediatrician Judith Owens wrote in 2014. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

Poll shows split on school start times in Utah

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 push for later start times and longer recess

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.


Canadian study shows benefit of later school start times

“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.

Colorado school district change to later start times

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.”

South Portland schools to start later next year

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.

Six Illinois high schools will have later start times next 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.”

Two New York school districts consider later start times

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.

Advocate says Anne Arundel schools will still start too early

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.