Schools Recently Going Nowhere

October 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

“To do nothing is really to do harm.”Judith Owens, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Associate Professor of Neurology, Boston Children’s Hospital, lead author, American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy Statement, School Start Times for Adolescents. (Park, School Should Start Later So Teens Can Sleep, Urge Doctors (Aug. 25, 2014) Time.)

CALIFORNIA — In July 2014, Adelanto High School in the Victor Valley Union High School District announced that it would advance its start time from 8:10 a.m. to 7 a.m. for 2014-2015. Victor Valley High School and University Preparatory also start at 7 a.m. The opening bell at the Cobalt Institute of Math and Science rings at 7:42 a.m., and the Goodwill Education Center begins morning classes at 8 a.m. Zero period at Silverado High School starts at 6:58 a.m., first period at 8 a.m. Hook Junior High School and Lakeview Middle School both begin at 9 a.m. In August 2014, employee-district negotiations resulted in retention of Adelanto’s 8:10 a.m. start time. When asked about the district’s early school scheduling, Superintendent Ron Williams stated, “I break-tradition -- thereaganwinghaven’t looked at the research in a while, but I know based on previous research, teens would fare a little better …. But we also have to think about tradition.” District spokesperson Barbara Morrow Williams stated that school start times are determined by the “transportation requirements of each site, including mandated transportation arrangements for special-needs students.” (Self, Back to school: Local teens early to rise (Aug. 9, 2014) Daily Press; Self, Changes coming to Adelanto High School (Jul. 21, 2014) Daily Press.)

In 2011, Temecula Valley High School students formed a “Sleep Club.” The club’s purpose is to advocate for later start times at all Temecula Valley Unified School District high schools. Temecula Valley Unified high school classes begin at 7:30 a.m. four day a week and 8:30 a.m. one day. Teachers and students say it’s a “common occurrence” for students to nod off in class. “One [additional] hour of sleep does so much for the body,” said club President Jason Luque. “It doesn’t just affect school, it affects our entire attitude. You see students every day looking to see when they can take a nap. We want to change that where there’s no more sleepy period.” Faculty advisor Cara Ramsay notes, “A lot of kids came initially because they thought they could nap in here, which in and of itself says something. … The number one obstacle [to implementing later start times] is the logistics of getting kids to school. In a time when we’re worried about kids in California not having the necessary skills to compete, we make it harder on them. Why? Because we can’t change bus schedules? It’s counterproductive to what we’re doing in education.” Club secretary Maile Schoonover, a senior, recognizes that any change in the school schedule will take place after she graduates. “My brother is a junior,” she said. “I’d like to leave school knowing he’ll be able to score higher on tests and be more prepared for college.” A research report and proposal to delay start times were provided to the school board in March. The board approved an online parent survey re support/disapproval of later high school start times and earlier elementary school start times. Middle schools presently begin at 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., elementary schools at 8:55 a.m. Two plans are currently being considered to change start times, each of which would advance middle and elementary school start times to 8 a.m. The first proposal would begin high school classes at 9 a.m.; the second would allow high school students requiring flexible scheduling to begin classes at 7:45 a.m., all others would begin at 8:45 a.m. A poll found seventy-three percent of parents support delaying the high school start time. On March 5, 2013, a district spokeswoman announced that excessive transportation costs would preclude any change in the high school start time. (Sanders, High School Won’t Alter Start Time, District Decides (Mar. 7, 2013) U-T San Diego; Avants, School Start Times Topic of Temecula Parent Survey (Aug. 31, 2012) Temecula Patch; Klampe, TEMECULA: Board approves later start for Bella Vista Middle School (Jul. 18, 2012) Press-Enterprise [2012-2013 Bella Vista Middle School start times delayed by 15 minutes to 8:30 a.m., saving about $100,000 in transportation expenses]; Shultz, TEMECULA: High school students seek later start (Oct. 31, 2011) The Californian; see also, Surowski, Students Push for More Sleep (Dec. 21, 2011) Temecula Patch; Kabany, Sleepy teens need relief (Nov. 6, 2011) North County Times.)

Teachers at Rio Americano High School in the San Juan Unified School District voted against a proposal (57% to 43%) to delay start times from 7:50 a.m. (zero period begins at 6:50 a.m.) to 8:20 a.m. The school’s (now expired) Later Start Times Information page noted the teachers’ assent was needed by contract to “any change of five minutes or more[.]” A straw poll taken in December 2011 found over 60% of faculty favored the change. Parent group STEPS (Support to Engage Parents and Students) had pressed for later start times since February 2011. In the weeks following the straw poll, teachers opposed to the change “attacked the research” proffered by STEPS. Computer Sciences teacher Tom Sullivan focused on another problem, stating, “I 5 freeway to sacramentohave to commute a lot to get here, and I’d just be sitting in traffic longer.” Physical Education teacher Brian Davis, on the other hand, commented, “Whatever is best for the kids.” (Hartman, Proposal to Change School Start Time (Jan. 27, 2012) The Mirada.) Physics teacher Dean Baird, who compiled the school’s now expired “Later School Start Time Resource Page,” notes the “status quo” is “[m]uch more powerful than academic and medical research.” (Baird, What time should high school start? (Jan. 29, 2012) The Blog of Phyz.) Math instructor “Darren” questions “why only teachers got a vote on this, and not our administrative, clerical, custodial, or food service staffs.” (Darren, The Furor Over Start Time (Jan. 29, 2012) Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher.) A survey found “overwhelming” opposition among parents. Students also “generally” favored retaining the 7:50 a.m. start time. (Hartman, Proposal to Change School Start Time, supra, The Mirada.) This outcome appears consistent with literature noting teachers often oppose later start times due to concerns they may have to commute during peak traffic (Bronson & Merryman, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children (Twelve Books 2009) p. 37), or may have less time with their families. (Eight Major Obstacles to Changing School Start Times (2011) National Sleep Foundation.) In addition, “vehement” opposition from parents prior to the change (see, Carrell, Maghakian, & West, A’s from Zzzz’s? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Performance of Adolescents (Aug. 2011) 3 Am. Economic J.: Economic Policy 3, p. 62), has been followed by overwhelming approval after implementation. (See, Later Start Times for High School Students (Jun. 2002) Univ. Minn. [92% parental approval after more than 50,000 children changed start times in Minneapolis and Edina].) Similarly, students often oppose later start times prior to making the change, but approve the later start once implemented. (See, § IV.A.) Middle schools in the San Juan Unified School District begin as early as 7:23 a.m.; other high schools as early as 7:45 a.m., zero period, 6:50 a.m. A local parent advocacy group continues to press for later high school scheduling.

Rancho Santa Fe School District Trustee Todd Frank would like to explore the possibility of pushing the current Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. start time back to 9:15 a.m., the current Monday start time, five days a week for all kindergarten through 8th grade students. Frank stated that his own children had to rise at 5:45 a.m. to make their morning extracurricular activities and they are tired, but on Mondays they feel much better. Frank indicated parents had approached him asking about later start times. Superintendent Linda Delaney responded, “We’ve tried things.” The current schedule “works the best, our kids do a lot.” The board decided to table the issue until another meeting and determine whether they should do a parent survey about this and other issues. On February 2, 2012, the board decided to leave the schedule without undertaking the survey. The superintendent reported that Mr. ”Frank agreed start times should remain as they are.” Mr. Frank, however, abstained from the vote confirming the schedule. (McCormac, Board decides school start times will remain (Feb. 6, 2012) The Coast News; McCormac, School board to examine start times (Jan. 23, 2012) The Coast News; Billing, Trustee proposes later start time for Rancho Santa Fe School (Dec. 14, 2011) Ranch Santa Fe Rev.)

CANADA — The Waterloo Catholic District School Board considered and then rejected a plan to align bell times and bus schedules with the Waterloo Region District School Board for 2012-2013. High school start times would have been delayed from 8:15 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. to sometime between 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. The plan was expected to save $1 million in transportation costs. Nearly 7,000 parents raised objections to the proposal as it would have started some primary school students before 8 a.m., concerning many that young students might have to walk to school in the dark during winter months. Parents also complained older children would be unable to watch younger siblings after school if elementary school ended first. Many students also voiced opposition to the proposal, noting the proposed schedule would interfere with work or extracurricular activities. (Rutledge, No changes to bell times at Catholic school board (Feb. 13, 2012) Cambridge Times; Youth Editorial Board, Should school bell times change? (Feb. 11, 2012) The Record; Board seeks input on bell time changes (Jan. 5, 2012) Cambridge Times; Hicks, Catholic board looks to align bell times with public school board (Jan. 4, 2012) The Record.)

On February 13, 2012, following the decision by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board not to delay start times, the Waterloo Region District School Board decided 6-5 against pushing back high school start times to sometime between 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Waterloo Region District high schools presently begin between 8:15 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Prior to the decision rejecting the plan, a district spokesperson commented, “There is research that supports later start times for adolescents. Ask any educator. In the morning, kids aren’t necessarily at their most spry.” The plan was expected to save the district as much as $1.3 million in transportation costs. Cameron Heights high school student, Abigail McLellan, told the committee that her survey of 200 schoolmates showed strong support for later bell times. Elementary school start times would have been advanced to as early as 8 a.m. (Hicks, Bell tolls for plan to change school start times (Feb. 13, 2012) The Record; Youth Editorial Board, Should school bell times change? (Feb. 11, 2012) The Record; Hazzard, Proposed school bell times will hurt co-op students (Jan. 25, 2012) The Record; Hicks, Public board puts off issue of later start times at high school (Jan. 23, 2012) The Record; Rutledge, School bell time study could see later start for teenagers (Dec. 8, 2011) Cambridge Times; Hicks, Later starts for high school students under study (Dec. 1, 2011) The Record; see also, D’Amato, ‘Walking zombies’ will benefit from later high school start times (Dec. 2, 2011) The Record.)

CONNECTICUT — In November 2013, Ridgefield Public Schools considered a plan to send middle schoolers to class on the present high school schedule; i.e., at 7:25 a.m. rather than 8 a.m., a 35 minute advance. High schoolers were start on the middle school schedule, at 8 a.m. rather than 7:25 a.m., a 35 minute delay. In December 2013, however, the matter was dropped following a survey showing overwhelming disapproval from parents, teachers, and students. (Coulter, Survey: Most oppose school time change (Dec. 13, 2013) The Ridgefield Press; Coulter, Start times: Middle schools as the earliest? (Nov. 15, 2013) The Ridgefield Press.) After 50,000 children changed start times in Minneapolis and Edina, 92% of parents approved of the change. (Later Start Times for High School Students (2002) Univ. Minn.) Like their parents, students may also initially oppose later school scheduling, but in each jurisdiction implementing later start times, surveyed students have overwhelmingly approved the new schedule. (See, § IV.A.) As discussed, supra  teachers are well known opponents of later school scheduling. (See, § IV.) Obviously, the plan was fundamentally flawed insofar as middle school students also benefit from later school scheduling. (See, e.g., Edwards, Early to Rise? The Effect of Daily Start Times on Academic Performance (Dec. 2012) 31 Economics of Education Rev. 6, p. 981; Edwards, Do Schools Begin Too Early? (Summer 2012) 12 Education Next 3.) The proposed 8 a.m. high school start time is still 30 minutes earlier than the earliest start time suggested by any sleep expert for middle or high school students (see, infra, Appendix C, Start Time Recommendations, etc.), and one hour earlier than suggested by Brookings Institute economists. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments (Sept. 2011) Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., pp. 5-11, 21, n. 7; see, Cortes, Bricker, & Rohlfs, The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools (2012) 12 B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 1, Art. 27, pp. 1-34 [students beginning classes at 8 a.m. show marked deficiencies in first period courses and were more likely to be absent from first period courses relative to other periods].)

FLORIDA –In August of 2014, Walton County School District Superintendent Carlene Anderson was asked whether the district would be delaying secondary scheduling in light of the AAP Policy Statement recommending 8:30 a.m. or later middle and high school start times. Walton County high school classes begin at 7:35 a.m. (South Walton High, Seacoast Collegiate High) or 7:45 a.m. (Walton High, Freeport High, Paxton School). Middle school classes begin as early as 7:27 a.m. (Freeport Middle) and 7:45 a.m. (Walton Middle, Paxton School). Anderson stated that no one has approached her about changing the start times and the school board has shown no interest in the matter. “We’re not taking any steps toward any changes at this time,” Anderson said. (Tammen, Okaloosa school start times among earliest in nation (Aug. 25, 2014) Other district middle schools begin at 8:30 a.m. (Seaside Neighborhood School) and 8:48 a.m. (Emerald Coast). Elementary schools start at 7:45 a.m. or 8 a.m. Wise Pre-K begins at 7:30 a.m.

In December 2013, in response to a bill introduced in the Florida Legislature on September 23, 2013 by Republican Representative Matt Gaetz proposing that no high school begin morning classes before 8 a.m., Pinellas County Schools School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook said the bill raises questions over who controls area schools — the school board or the Legislature. “They already tell us what day we need to start, and now they’re telling us what time we need to start[.] I believe more and more they are overstepping their boundaries and not letting school boards make the best decision to meet the needs of their communities.” Most district high schools begin at 7:05 a.m. Changing bus schedules could have big repercussions, said Michael Bessette, Pinellas’ associate superintendent of operational services. When the school district in 2005 considered starting high schools at 9:15 a.m., more than half of the parents polled preferred the 7:05 a.m. start times, Bessette said. The school district also found that pushing back the bus schedule forced middle school students to start at about 10 a.m. and get out about 5 p.m. According to Representative Gaetz, “Kids don’t freaking learn at 7 in the morning, and it’s such an obvious fix. In the state of Florida, we spend oodles of money perfecting the content we deliver to students, but if they’re not ready to receive that content, it’s like spending a bunch of money to purify water to pour in a bucket when there’s a hole in the bottom of the bucket.” On June 12, 2011, by a 5-2 vote, $573,000 in additional transportation costs was cited by the school board as a reason not to retain a 7:20 a.m. start time in favor of the new 9:30 a.m. start time at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School. The bell schedule indicates most other district middle schools begin at 9:30 a.m., except that Clearwater Fundamental begins at 8:15 a.m., Madeira Beach Fundamental at 7:45 a.m., and three K-12 schools, Calvin Hunsinger, Hamilton Disston, Richard L. Sanders, at 7:05 a.m. On January 10, 2012, Superintendent John Stewart, Ed.D., recommended the current bell schedule remain in place for 2012-13, a point which continues to distress many Thurgood Marshall parents. The board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation. (Dawson, Districts skeptical of later start times (Dec. 4, 2013) The Tampa Tribune; Catalanello, Stewart could remain as Pinellas school chief through 2012-13 school year (Jan. 11, 2012) Tamba Bay Times; Pinellas promises meeting with Thurgood parents over start times (Jan. 7, 2012) Tampa Bay Times; Thurgood parents rallying again over start time (Jan. 6, 2012) Tampa Bay Times; Catalanello, No Go on earlier start times for Thurgood Marshall (Jun. 15, 2011)

On January 10, 2011, pediatrician Lynn Keefe made a presentation to the Okaloosa County School District school board requesting a delay in high school start times to 9 a.m. from the current 7 a.m. start. On November 14, 2011, Dr. Keefe, together with physicians Eleanor McCain and Deb Simkin, addressed the school board a second time. Dr. McCain asked, “Why am I still here talking to you about this problem? The only conclusion I can (draw) is that you don’t believe the medical data.” Dr. McCain noted it has historically been difficult for society to accept new knowledge that challenges traditional beliefs, but the changes, once made, have always been for the better. “Worldview and beliefs do evolve over time as our knowledge expands.” To illustrate her point, Dr. Simkin, a local psychiatrist, touched on all the innovations in science that have allowed doctors and scientists to study the human brain and how it works. Dr. Simkin explained that research has shown, time and time again, that most teenagers cannot get enough sleep with early school start times because their bodies typically don’t allow them to go to bed earlier than 10:30 p.m. Starting school around 7 a.m. contributes to a whole host of preventable physical and mental problems from obesity to depression to substance abuse problems. Simkin noted medications exist to correct all these problems, but an easier and healthier remedy exists. “The only way to fix the problem, whether you go to sleep earlier or not, is to have later start times.” As noted, supra, on September 23, 2013, Representative Matt Gaetz, a resident of Fort Walton Beach where the high school begins at 7 a.m., introduced a bill in the Florida Legislature prohibiting schools from opening before 8 a.m. Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson says she believes later start times are the healthiest choice, but that the district cannot do it with the current number of buses. Additional buses cost a cost of a hundred thousand dollars each and she believes the districts would need 10 more. Gaetz, a Republican, stated, “It’s preposterous for any school district to say well yes, we know we have children in the classroom that can’t reach their potential and can’t retain information, but because we can’t get the bus schedule right, we’re just going to keep things how they are[.]” Gaetz says making sure students succeed is important to Florida’s economic future. Dr. Keefe continues to meet with the district transportation staff and others in an effort to get high schools later start times. Okaloosa County has its own StartSchoolLater Chapter. (Nielsen, Matt Gaetz Files Bill for Later High School Start Times (Sept. 25, 2013) Sunshine State News; Schorsch, Matt Gaetz files bill for later high schools start times (Sept. 24, 2013) Saint Peters Blog; Okaloosa County School Start Times (Sept. 23, 2010) ABC 3; Tammen, Area doctors press for later start for high schools (Nov. 15, 2011); Tammen, Pediatrican addresses school board over start times (Jan. 11, 2011); see also, Keefe, ‘Let’s sleep on it’ is not an acceptable answer; early school start times are hurting our students (Mar. 12, 2012)

ILLINOIS — In August 2014, Edwardsville Community Unit District 7 Schools Superintendent Ed Hightower said that if the district would implement a later, common start time for all students, the district would have to buy about 50 buses. That’s because the current staggered, three-tier schedule allows the same fleet of buses to be used more than once in the same morning. Adding the buses would cost $2.5 million. Making the elementary or middle school students the earliest would mean young children would have to arrive at bus stops in the dark. With the current schedule, older siblings are able to arrive home before younger siblings and supervise them. “It’s not even close to being practical, feasible or reasonable,” said Hightower, who sent a letter to all district parents on the issue last week. “If money was not an issue, then yes, we would have been doing that for a number of years.” The district’s two high schools begin morning classes at 7:10 a.m. (Edwardsville High South) and 7:20 a.m. (Edwardsville High). Students attending zero period classes begin 50 minutes earlier. The two middle schools (grades 6-8) begin at 8 a.m. The district’s 10 primary and elementary schools span grades K-5 and begin morning classes at 9:15 a.m. Parent Elise Rebmann, an advocate for later secondary school scheduling, contends, “It’s like smoke detectors. You’d find the money if you knew how important it is[.]” According to James Walsh, executive director and senior scientist at St. Luke’s Sleep Medicine and Research Center, “Everything we know about the brain’s timing system in teenagers argues that we ought to start school later[.]” (Bock, Should school districts adapt to teen sleep patterns? (Aug. 11, 2014) St. Louis Post Dispatch.)

On February 21, 2012, the Belvidere School District again voted down a plan to delay start times for all students as follows: primary, from 7:40 a.m. to 8:05 a.m.; middle, from 8:38 a.m. to 8:58 a.m.; secondary, from 7:55 a.m. to 8 a.m. Many parents expressed concerns about elementary school children boarding buses as early as 6:30 a.m. Other parents indicated later start times would preclude them from getting their kids to school before work. (Kravets, UPDATE: No Change to Belvidere School Start Times (Feb. 21, 2012) WIFR.COM; Kravets, Belvidere Schools Eye Start Time Change (Feb. 21, 2012) WIFR.COM.)

IOWA — In March 2015, Sioux City Community Schools Director of Communications Alison Benson reported that the district briefly discussed a later start time in 2007 but the concept was quickly shot down when parents overwhelmingly opposed the idea. For 2014-2015, the district’s 3 high schools begin morning classes at 7:55 a.m., the 3 middle schools begin at 7:45 a.m., and 16 elementary schools begin at 8:35 a.m. North High School Assistant Principal Jen Gomez says students with packed schedules are susceptible to stress and fatigue, but most know it comes with the territory of being involved. Gomez does not believe that moving school to a later start time would solve those problems. “You’re always going to have pros and cons with anything regarding starting time[.] I still think you’re going to see kids getting the same amount of sleep but you’d just be postponing things an hour or two.” (Butz & Forbes, Sioux City students losing sleep over academics, activities (Mar. 14, 2015) Sioux City J.)

KENTUCKY — In July of 2017, a spokeswoman Jefferson County Public Schools, the largest school district in Kentucky, reported that no changes to the 7:40 a.m. middle and high school start time are being considered. District elementary schools begin morning classes at 9:05 a.m. (Ross, Why are teens going to school so early? Research shows educators may need a wake-up call (Jul. 19, 2017) courier-journal.)

Do not enter signMASSACHUSETTS — In August 2016, Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper reported that the district has no current plans to formally evaluate shifting the 7:55 a.m. high school start time, but she is open to having initial conversations about the move and would consider investigating it formally down the line. The district’s K-8 schools begin at 8:10 a.m., its alternative high school begins at 8 a.m., and its alternative junior high begins at 8:20 a.m. Skipper’s primary concerns revolve around logistics. “One of the challenges is meeting the needs of all students[.] A later start time would then mean that they’re getting out later. That cuts into areas such as sports. We also have a number of students who have work obligations in the after-school hours. A number of our students are caretakers, helping out with an elderly relative or with their siblings. Time is finite, so these are all the things you have to look at.” Somerville High School’s 2013-2014 Student Health Survey found that about a third of students reported experiencing depression in the previous year. Another third described themselves as overweight. In 2015, the school had over a 24 percent chronic absenteeism rate, about six percent higher than the state average, according to information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Pediatrician Terence McAllister, who helped spearhead the Massachusetts Medical Society’s school start time resolution, explains that as high school start times have gotten earlier, students have suffered. “School start times over the past 15 to 20 years have been pushed earlier and earlier with the expectation that adolescents would just go to bed earlier and could still get the same amount of sleep and would be fine[.] The problem is, the science shows that adolescents’ natural body rhythms just don’t work that way. They’re naturally driven to stay up later and to sleep later.” McAllister is aware of the issues that a later start time would pose, but believes that school administrators will have to tackle the challenges head-on. “They’re very valid concerns, the logistics of switching school times is a huge hurdle to overcome[.] But when you look at the downside of making these kids sleep deprived, it’s something that’s truly necessary. The science really backs that up. [¶] These would be really big changes in the traditions that a lot of schools have, but again, when the school start times the way they are now are not healthy, are not good for adolescents, then we have to find some sort of solution, even though it will be very difficult[.]” McAllister homeschools his son, in part because the public school in their district starts at 7:15 a.m. (Karasin, Sleep, Science and the Somerville Public School Schedule (Aug. 4, 2016) Scout Somerville.)

Start School Later has introduced a petition in Massachusetts calling for middle and high school classes to commence no earlier than 8:30 a.m. “Local reaction from school officials and at least one parent is fairly tepid to a proposal that high school and middle school students in Taunton [Public Schools] and across the state begin their school day no earlier than 8:30 a.m.” Taunton High School begins morning classes at 7:30 a.m., Martin and Parker Middle Schools begins at 8:20 a.m., and elementary schools begin at 9 a.m. Nancy Everidge, President of the 561-member Taunton Teachers Association, believes that “[l]ogistically it could be difficult[]” to start school later. Ms. Everidge contends that implementing a uniform start time would stress the district’s three-tier busing system. Ms. Everidge believes “ ‘[i]t may be the case’ that a fair number of students don’t get enough sleep, … [b]ut … everyone’s internal clock is not identical. ‘Some students … can manage to get up and go early, and others have to pull themselves together. Some thrive on it and some don’t.’ ” Taunton Police Sergeant Kevin Medas, whose two sons attend Taunton High School, said his oldest boy probably would appreciate starting his school day an hour later. “He is sleep-deprived[.]” But Medas believes eliminating the three-tier system isn’t a good idea. “It really depends on what they do on the other end[.] Will there be enough time in the school day?” Medas says his 16-year-old son, a junior, gets good grades, is active in sports, has a part-time job bussing tables at a restaurant and is so bushed by the time he gets home he takes a two-hour nap before dinner. “He loves school and loves doing all the things teenagers do,” Medas said, adding that his household has its own “three-tiered shower system. [¶] I’m up at 5:30 a.m. and get them up by 6 a.m.[]” Medas’ 15-year-old son doesn’t seem to mind getting up early and being in class by 7:20 a.m. Schools Superintendent Julie Hackett said a sweeping change in class hours would be “challenging, because it would impact the entire district.” Hackett said she understands the concern of pediatricians and some parents, but at the same time warns that starting school later could disrupt after-school activities such as sports practices and affect the ability of some students to work part-time jobs. Nineteen-year-old Devyn Faria of Raynham, a junior at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School, said he’s in favor of starting the school day later and says he knows classmates who “are always tired in class. [¶] I think it would be good to have this[.]” School committee member Jordan Fiore reports that instituting a system requiring middle and high school students to start classes at the same time will “complicate things on both ends.” Fiore believes safety concerns would increase, especially during winter when daylight savings is not in effect. Students who stay later for after-school events, he said, most certainly would be walking home in darkness. He also said running school buses on the same non-staggered schedule would make things tougher overall, in terms of traffic and for drivers commuting to and from work. “It creates too many complications,” he said. “It sounds like a nice idea,” Fiore said, “but if the kids are sleep-deprived then they should start going to bed earlier.” (Winokoor, Later school start times wouldn’t work in Taunton (Mar. 15, 2015) Taunton Daily Gazette.)

A few years ago, Lincoln School students (grades 5-8) were allowed to enter the building at 7:45 a.m., so that classes could begin promptly at 8 a.m. Other than that, Principal Sharon Hobbs cannot remember a time when the school talked about starting at different times. Hanscom Middle School (grades 4-8), and all other Lincoln Public Schools (Hanscom Primary School, Lincoln Primary School, Lincoln School, grades K-4), also begin morning classes at 8 a.m. According to Hobbs, “The drawback for us of starting later would be that we would need to end later as well, which would make athletics difficult. As it is, we have one of the later finishing times for middle schools in the area, which can be a challenge for away games[.]” Lincoln School (grades 5-8) dismisses students at 2:50 p.m., except on Wednesdays, when classes conclude at 12:35 p.m. (Tuoti, Group pushes for later start to school day (Apr. 10, 2015) Wicked Local.)

In December of 2010, the Lexington Public Schools Committee held a discussion about delaying the current 7:45 a.m. high school start time after receiving letters from parents on the subject. Committee member Jessie Steigerwald noted that information from studies and students shows that “even 30 more minutes of sleep makes a huge difference.” Steigerwald also observed that local schools making the change had seen “higher attendance records, fewer students sleeping through first period and little effect on sports.” Two students expressed support for making the change. The Committee Chairman commented it would be a large undertaking, “but this is a year or two process before we can really examine this. We have an awful lot on our plate this year, my preference is add it to our list ….” Superintendent Paul Ash said examining different start times would be a lot of work for the committee, something members might not have time for in the coming months. “I’m convinced this would require a massive amount of work, and implementing the change would be huge. I’m not aware there is any evidence that this produces a positive change in learning. It could have a positive effect, but is it worth the time? I think it’s not something we should look into right now.” School representatives advise that Clarke and Diamond middle schools begin at 8 a.m. and 8:05 a.m., respectively, for the 2011-2012 year. (Pickering, School Committee Discusses High School Start Time (Dec. 15, 2010) Lexington Patch; Lexington High School, Schedule.)

In 2009, the Silver Lake Regional School District formed a Sleep Needs Study Committee to evaluate the possibility of moving back start times for all district schools by 45 minutes. The Committee webpage notes the new start times would be 8:05 a.m. for the middle school, 8:15 a.m. for the high school, and 9 a.m./9:15 a.m. for the elementary schools. The Committee was said to be “preparing a powerpoint presentation on the issue of adolescent sleep needs and the options the Silver Lake District may take with regard to this scientific data.” The 2011-2012 bell schedule for Silver Lake Middle School notes a 7:35 a.m. start time, suggesting a 15 minute delay was undertaken. As of this writing, the only high school bell schedule posted notes a 7:30 a.m. start time, but the schedule is from the 2010-2011 academic year. Dennett Elementary similarly posts only a 2010-2011 schedule (in the school handbook), noting an 8:20 a.m. start time. The Halifax Elementary 2011-2012 parent-student handbook notes an 8:30 a.m. start time. As of October 2014, the high school bell schedule shows a 7:30 a.m. start time, the posted middle school student handbook (from 2013-2014) shows a 7:35 a.m. start time.

MICHIGAN — Sparta High School and Sparta Middle School in the Sparta Area Schools District begin morning classes at 7:20 a.m. Bus pick ups begin after 6 a.m., meaning many students awaken at 5 a.m. In May of 2016, Superintendent Gordie Nickels reported that because of a change in bus routes, it’s been this way for nearly 10 years. Superintendent Nickels, on the job for the past three years, says he cannot recall anyone calling for a later start time. “I don’t think it’s ever come up[.]” Ridgeview Elementary (K-2) starts the school day at 8:35 a.m., Appleview Elementary (grades 3-5) begins at 8:20 a.m. (Roelofs, Asleep at the desk: How school begins for many Michigan teens (May 31, 2016)

nowhere road signMISSOURI — In 2013, at the urging of parents, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams proposed a delay in the 7:10 a.m. middle and high school start time. The suggested delay in start times to approximately 8 a.m. would have ended the school day at 3 p.m. rather than 2:07 p.m. Parents and staff objected to the later end time as creating conflicts with work and athletic schedules. St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that “it was the unpopularity of the change that led Adams to drop the recommendation.” The change would allegedly have required an additional 94 buses at a cost of $5.7 million. (Bock, Should school districts adapt to teen sleep patterns? (Aug. 11, 2014) St. Louis Post Dispatch.)

NEW HAMPSHIRE — In early 2013, Hampton School District considered adopting an unstated common start time for its kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools for 2013-2014. Middle schoolers presently begin classes at 7:40 a.m. while the younger students begin at 8:30 a.m. Committee members reported a common start time would reduce traffic congestion and simplify pickups for families. Superintendent Kathleen Murphy advised that a new schedule would serve middle school students who learn better later in the morning, as well as benefit younger students by starting them earlier, since they learn better in the morning. In April 2013, school officials announced the common start time would be rejected. A survey of parents and teachers found overwhelming disapproval of the plan. Parents were concerned about busing kindergarten students with middle school students for “developmental[]” reasons. In addition, bus rides would likely have increased to more than 40 minutes. (Reid, Hampton schools reject common start time (Apr. 10, 2013) Seacoastline; Reid, Hampton debates unified school start time (Mar. 19, 2013) Seacoastline.)

In 2012, the Rochester School Department appointed an ad hoc committee to determine whether secondary school students may perform better if start times are delayed. For the 2012-2013 school year, Rochester Middle School and Spaulding High School begin morning classes at 7:30 a.m. Spaulding High School social studies teacher Sarah Quinn stated, “Nothing gets done in ‘A block’ because they’re too tired. You can see kids really struggling to stay awake. Teenagers need about nine-and-a-quarter hours to sleep, and a majority in the United State get about eight hours. I don’t know if this would totally fix that problem (but) I think it would be a step in the right direction.” SAU #64 Superintendent Jay McIntire reported being “particularly interested in the idea of starting school later because some Spaulding High students in Wakefield leave town as early as 5:50 a.m. to get to Rochester on time. McIntire said working parents consequently get up early to spend time with their children, and they end up losing hours of rest as well.” In March 2013, after a survey found that just slightly more than half of all parents favored later start times and 27% reported that starting school later would have a significant negative impact on their schedules, the start time committee recommended start times remain status quo. On April 11, 2013, the school board accepted the committee’s recommendation. (Markhlevskaya, School Board accepts resignation of Spaulding principal, others Also agrees not to change school start time (Apr. 12, 2013) Foster’s Daily Democrat; Markhlevskaya, Committee: Don’t alter Rochester school start times (Mar. 27, 2013) Foster’s Daily Democrat; Allen, School districts eye later start times (Dec. 2, 2012) Foster’s Daily Democrat; Allen, Rochester panel wants to study data if students will perform better with later start (Oct. 2, 2012) Foster’s Daily Democrat.)

NEW JERSEY — In April 2017, the New Jersey Department of Education issued its report on Later School Start Times. At page 4, the report notes that 93% of districts targeted by the survey responded, and that of those, approximately 14% had middle or high school start times at 8:30 a.m. or later. Approximately 91% of the remaining districts with earlier start times reported they were not considering any schedule changes.

A group of parents, led by Cindy Botwinick, is urging Toms River Regional Schools to push back the start times for Intermediate North and the township’s three high schools, saying students are sleep deprived and not performing at their best. The township’s 3 high schools begin morning classes at 7:15 a.m., The intermediate schools begin at 7:50 a.m. or 7:55 a.m. All elementary schools begin at 8:40 a.m. or 9:25 a.m. Tammi Millar, spokeswoman for the district, said any change in start times would require an in-depth study. “The district has begun this process and will be discussing our preliminary findings during the December 2014 committee meetings[.]” The meetings will be announced on the district’s website. Until then, Botwinick is circulating a petition among Toms River parents to gather support for the initiative. Botwinick reports that her son stands outside in the dark at 6:30 a.m. each morning to catch the school bus. Apparently seeking only modest change (i.e., an earlier start than suggested by any expert, supra, Appen. C, Start Time Recommendations, etc.), Botwinick is reported to have stated, “We need to push back our start times by half an hour[.] We know it’s not OK anymore.” After an “exhaustive study,” Toms River school administrators found that a change would require the district to buy more buses for its 165-vehicle fleet and hire additional staff to bus their 15,000 students. According to Superintendent David Healy: “We certainly didn’t dismiss concerns and questions[.] It’s just cost prohibitive. [¶] There was a lot to consider, and we did. We did a very thorough assessment into every possibility, and every single one of them w[as] cost prohibitive.” (Oglesby, NJ high schools start too early, and here’s why (Apr. 26, 2017) APP; Carino, Toms River mom leading push for school-time change (Dec. 3, 2014) Asbury Park Press; Oglesby, Parents seek later Toms River school start times (Dec. 1, 2014) Asbury Park Press.)

The Cinnaminson Township Public Schools District has considered switching the schedules of elementary and secondary school children “for many years,” according to Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi. The superintendent reports, “The problem is and always will be, until all schools that could possibly be in some form of competition, athletic or academic, agree to a change in hours, it will not work[.]” In addition, Illuzzi notes difficulties juggling transportation, including scheduling for private and parochial school students. High school classes begin at 7:35 a.m.; the middle school advisory period begins at 8:07 a.m., classes begin at 8:21 a.m.; intermediate school begins at 8:36 a.m.; elementary school at 9:06 a.m. (Giordano & Burney, A later start time for schools in N.J.? (Oct. 11, 2014)

Can't do list mintsocialSuperintendent Mark Silverstein reports Glassboro Public Schools has looked into later starts, but scrapped the idea because of busing issues. Child care and extracurriculars are also concerns. According to Silverstein, “There is no easy answer[.] I’d like to see it happen, but I don’t know how to solve those other issues….” The last posted schedule show a 7:50 a.m. high school start time and 7:28 a.m. intermediate school start time. Bowe School begins at 9 a.m., Rodgers School-Genesis (pre-K and K) at 8 a.m. No start time is posted for Bullock School. (Giordano & Burney, A later start time for schools in N.J.? (Oct. 11, 2014)

Rebecca Morton, communications coordinator for the Freehold Regional High School District, stated in September 2014, “While the research is clear on the benefits, delaying the start of the school day is not feasible at the moment due to conflicts in busing schedules and after-school activities.” The district’s high schools begin at 7:30 a.m. (Freehold, Howell, Manalpan), or 8:25 a.m (Colts Neck, Freehold Township, Marlboro). (Grossman, Later school start time sought for teens (Sept. 18, 2014) GMNews.)

NEW MEXICO — In October 2014, Superintendent Sue Cleveland stated she has ruled out later secondary school start times as “not practical” in the Rio Rancho Public Schools District. The bell schedule reflects that classes at Rio Rancho High and Cleveland High begin at 7:20 a.m., middle school classes begin at 8:10 a.m., elementary school classes begin at 9 a.m., except at Colinas del Norte and Puesta del Sol, where classes begin at 7:30 a.m. Superintendent Cleveland recognizes the value of later start times, but line-of-morning-buses-via-rutheh-filesreports that one of the biggest hurdles is the district’s three-tier transportation system, which “drives the whole conversation.” The transportation department employs a three-tier system to transport a large percentage of the district’s 17,000-plus students to elementary, middle and high schools throughout the city. Cleveland stated, “That early start time causes so many problems[.] If you swapped it, elementary students would be (waiting for their buses) in the dark. Another concern is that the older children would not be home in time to care for their younger siblings. “The first two periods of the day are problematic[.] (Students) are tired and it’s hard to pay attention.” To attain later start times, the superintendent believes the district would have to spend more money on buses and less money in the classrooms. (Herron, Teens, sleep and school (Oct. 5, 2014) Alberquerque J.)

In March of 2010, Albuquerque Public Schools announced plans to adjust start times for high school students from 7:30 a.m. to 8:35 a.m. to comport with adolescent sleep patterns. Middle school start times vary from school to school and were to be set at 9:15 a.m. Elementary school start times, now set at 8:45 a.m. or 9:15 a.m., were to be advanced to 7:30 a.m. A decision on the plan has been “postponed because time and energy needs to go toward dealing with a $43 million budget shortfall.” The 2014-2014 bell schedule shows high schools continue to start at 7:30 a.m.; middle schools begin between 8:04 a.m. and 8:25 a.m. (except Washington, 8:49 a.m.); elementary school start times range between 7:43 a.m. and 9:07 a.m. (Albuquerque Public Schools, APS Postpones Decision on Changing School Start Times (Mar. 30, 2010) Press Release; APS Bell Schedules; APS Proposes New School Start Times (Mar. 8, 2010) KOAT Albuquerque.)

NEW YORK — The Bedford Central School District Board of Education decided against delaying start times until 9 a.m. or 9:15 a.m. for Fox Lane middle and high school students because the additional buses needed to make the change would cost about $1 million dollars or more. Presently, high school classes begin at 7:45 a.m. and middle school classes begin at 8:05 a.m. If other districts in the area were to make the change, it would be affordable for Bedford. One school board member stated, “it is ‘disappointing that this is where we get stuck in the conversation,’ noting that the start times issue deals with children’s well-being.” (Auchterlonie, Bedford BOE Decides Against Flipping School Start Times (Sept. 23, 2011) Chappaqua-Mount Kisco Patch.)

NORTH CAROLINA — The Brunswick County Schools Board of Education voted 3-2 to delay 2011-2012 start times for middle and high school students to 8:50 a.m. and 8:55 a.m., respectively, utilizing 30 fewer buses and saving $525,000 in annual transportation costs. Elementary schools advanced start times from 8 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. A district spokeswoman commented, “Adolescents are just physiologically wired to do better later in the mornings and elementary, younger children, are alert and ready to learn very early on in the day. So we feel like it is a cost savings but at the same time it is actually in the best interest of the way children learn.” On April 3, 2012, the board voted 3-2 to restore the single-bell schedule, advancing middle school start times from 8:50 a.m. to 8:10 a.m., and high school start times from 8:55 a.m. to 7:50 a.m., while delaying elementary school schedules from 7:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. Parents opposed the 7:45 a.m. primary school start time as it compelled young children to wait for buses in the dark. Other parents argued the later release times (high school, 3:50 p.m.; middle school, 3:55 p.m.) cut into student-athletes’ school days. The $525,000 thought saved in transportation costs will now have to help pay health and unemployment benefits to former full-time bus drivers who will be laid off. New buses will also have to be purchased. Superintendent Edward Pruden, Ed.D., expressed his disappointment to the board. He said he felt the “silent majority” who had filled out surveys in favor of the staggered schedule had been ignored, as well as the studies that showed students responded better to the later start times. Pruden added that the best interest of the children had been overlooked. Pruden had recommended that the board leave the staggered schedule in place, noting that teachers and parents reported improved student behavior and performance. In April 2013, the board decided it could save transportation costs by returning to a staggered schedule, but will survey parents before determining which plan to implement: (a) delay high school start times to 8:45 a.m. and middle school start times to 8:50 a.m., advance elementary school start times to 7:20 a.m.; (b) retain the 7:50 a.m. high school start time, advance the middle school start time to 7:55 a.m., and delay the elementary school start time to 8:50 a.m. In May 2013, after 54% of parents responding to the survey favored starting secondary school students first, the board approved the following start times for 2013-2014: high schools, 7:45 a.m.; middle schools, 7:55 a.m. and 8 a.m.; and, 8:45 a.m. for the elementary schools. (Catlett, Brunswick Co. school leaders approve change in school start times (May 8, 2013) WWAY; Curran, Brunswick board of ed mails surveys seeking input on staggered start times (Apr. 16, 2013) Port City Daily; Curran, School start times set for next year (May 8, 2012) Brunsick Beacon; Gonzalez, Brunswick schools facing expensive policy change(Apr. 28, 2012) StarNewsOnline; Gonzalez, Flip-flop on school start times brings unexpected expenses (Apr. 23, 2012) StarNewsOnline; Gonzalez, Brunswick board votes to change back school day hours (Apr. 3, 2012) StarNewsOnline; White, Brunswick County Schools prepares for staggered schedules (Aug. 12, 2011) News14Carolina; Harden, Staggered schedules mean a more balanced budget for Brunswick Co. Schools (May 11, 2011) WWAYNewsChannel.) While experts report that the sleep cycles of primary school children comport with start times as early as 7:30 a.m. (Start School Later in the Morning, Say Sleepy Teens (May 21, 2007) Science Daily), as a practical matter, children awaiting buses in darkness may be placed in harm’s way. (Delisio, It’s About Time (and Sleep): Making the Case for Starting School Later (Jun. 3, 2003) Ed. World.) Brookings Institute economists observe that implementing start time changes at the regional level may eliminate some conflicts. (Jacob & Rockoff, Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments (Sept. 2011) Hamilton Project, Brookings Inst., p. 10.) “[P]airing the growing body of medical research with the educational outcomes seems to be the logical path to argue for changing to later start times. [¶] Incorrect assumptions, the use of only partial facts, and hasty implementation are frequent reasons that cause the defeat or demise of a local decision to change the start time.” (Wahlstrom, School Start Times and Sleepy Teens (Jul. 2010) 164 Archives Pediatrics & Adolescent Med. 7, p. 677.) Political considerations may outweigh science and reason. (Wahlstrom, The Prickly Politics of School Starting Times (Jan. 1999) 80 Phi Delta Kappan 5, pp. 344-347.)

OHIO — On May 26, 2015, Lakewood City Schools Assistant Superintendent Roxann Ramsey-Caserio fielded three questions from The Lakewood Observer concerning the district’s plans, if any, for later secondary school scheduling: (1) “Given all of the recent research regarding adolescent sleep cycles pointing to the fact that teenagers biologically need more sleep and shouldn’t start school any earlier than 9am, and that this change would likely produce an increase in test scores as it has been shown that teenagers perform better with a later starting time and more sleep, is the District considering changes to the start time of the school day?” (2) “Why or why not?” (3) “Is this decision made by the Administration, Board of Ed, or does it have to do with teachers’ contracts?” (According to the most recently posted bell schedule, the district high school begins morning classes at 8 a.m., the three middle schools begin at 8:30 a.m., and the eight elementary schools begin at 9 a.m.) Ramsey-Caserio distilled the inquiry into her own single question: “Will A Later Start Time For Adolescents Increase Student Achievement Scores?” The assistant superintendent then offers a meandering, citation-free, four paragraph array of excuses and misinformation to explain the district’s do nothing approach. She begins with this answer to her own question: “The jury is presently out on this question.” Actually, the jury has been in for awhile. (See, § III.A., supra.) Ramsey-Caserio moves on to the science. “There are those who believe that adolescent body clocks don’t allow students to be ready to sleep until 11pm, and as such, they should be permitted to begin school later.” Yes, those people would be physicians and scientists. And Brookings Institute economists. (Appen. C.) “There are others who still believe that the early bird gets the worm and that early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.” These are pleasant proverbs, but there is good evidence they do not apply to adolescents. (Am. Lung Assoc. of New England, School Daze: A Wake Up Call (Sept. 2008) Healthy Air Matters, p. 4.) Thereafter, apparently referring to herself and her fellow administrators as a “group,” the assistant superintendent opines that well-organized students are also well-rested students. “This group talks about students properly balancing their schedules to allow for sufficient rest.” (Ramsey-Caserio, Ask Roxann: Can Our Teenagers Get More Sleep? (May 26, 2015) Lakewood Observer.) Organization has nothing to do with managing a schedule in conflict with an immutable adolescent circadian rhythm. “You can’t train your system to get up at a practical time. It’s biological, just as your heartbeat, your liver function and a bunch of other things that all sync to natural biological time and that is not in your control. [¶] Anything you do to change the rhythmic systems of your body means your organs become desynchronised with each other and this is where people get ill and there is no fixing it by giving someone an alarm clock. [¶] Your body is not watching your wristwatch.” (Paton, School introduces ‘no mornings’ policy for tired teenagers (May 9, 2014) The Telegraph.)

On November 19, 2012, the Rootstown School District Start Time Committee recommended a one hour delay in the present 7:30 a.m. middle and high school start time in order to address sleep deprivation among adolescents. The Committee also recommended a one hour advance in the present 8:30 a.m. elementary school start time. Psychotherapist Stacy Simera had previously presented her research to area school administrators (Simera’s slideshow here), proposing precisely the wait signschedule recommended by the Committee. On February 11, 2013, the school board voted unanimously to end any discussion of later start times until: (a) the county or state issues recommendations for delayed school scheduling; or, (b) a simple majority of households support such the change. The board retained its authority to adjust start times to minimize transportation costs. Ms. Simera has launched an online petition seeking formation of later start time committees in Portage County and Northeast Ohio schools. Ohio has two StartSchoolLater Chapters: Statewide and Northeast. (Sever, Rootstown School Board Says ‘No’ To Change Of Class Start Times (Feb. 14, 2013) Record-Courier; Gallick, Committee Recommends Later School Start Times in Rootstown (Nov. 20, 2012) Record-Courier [subscription required]; Smith, Rootstown mom makes case for changing school start times (Jul. 22, 2012)

After completing an English paper concerning adolescent sleep patterns, in February 2012, Bowling Green High School senior Josh Flick presented his findings to the Bowling Green City Schools School Board, urging a delay in the school’s 7:50 a.m. start time. Board President and former school principal Eric Myers agreed that late starts would benefit teenagers. Myers noted two obstacles: starting later would interfere with current athletic practice schedules; elementary parents would object because their children would be starting school earlier and getting out earlier, causing day care complications. The 2014-2015 bell schedule reflects a 7:50 a.m. middle and high school start time. (Waddle, Senior student addresses school board about sleep schedules (Apr. 30, 2012) Journalism 4200 Public Affairs; Collier, Waking up is hard to do (Feb. 29, 2012); Dupont, Teens losing sleep over school (Feb. 27, 2012) Sentinel-Tribune.)

OREGON — The Lake Oswego School District will be closing two schools. Associated changes include starting high schools later and elementary schools earlier. “The later start time could be better for high school students who naturally need more early morning sleep.” As of 2014-2015, the district’s two high schools were retaining their 7:35 a.m. start time. The two junior high schools begin at 7:55 a.m. (Randall, Next phase of school-closure plan begins (Oct. 19, 2011) Portland Tribune.)

PENNSYLVANIA — On August 12, 2015, West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon authored a blog post acknowledging the AAP and CDC school start time policy statements, but lamenting “[u]nfortunately, it’s not an easy fix.” The district’s three high schools begin morning classes at 7:30 a.m., middle schools begin at 7:30 a.m. (J. R. Fugett) and 8:05 a.m. (E. N. Peirce Middle, G. A. Stetson Middle), elementary schools begin at 8:40 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. The superintendent discusses logistical hurdles to later school scheduling and notes that to begin all of the district’s 16 schools at 9 a.m. would add $30 to $40 million in transportation expenses to the budget. Such a budget increase would require voters to approve a 19% tax increase.

In the fall of 2011, an ad hoc committee of the Derry Township School District School Board decided that the Hershey High 7:38 a.m. start time will not change to “accommodate adolescent sleep cycles.” The committee concluded the change would be too disruptive, cost more money and take too much time away from school for student-athletes and teacher-coaches. Dr. Michael Bruno, a Professor of Radiology and Medicine at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and parent of a Hershey High student, was among those encouraging district officials to consider a start time change. The 2014-2015 bell schedule shows a 7:38 a.m. middle and high school start time, and 8:40 a.m. for the elementary and intermediate schools. (Shade, Derry Township School Board panel favors retaining Hershey High School’s start time (Sept. 25, 2011)

RHODE ISLAND — Barrington High School formed a committee to determine the feasibility of delaying morning classes from the present start time of 7:40 a.m. to at least 8 a.m., possibly 8:20 a.m. or 8:30 a.m., in order to benefit “student achievement.” Principal Joseph Hurley stated the data supporting the change is “indisputable,” but cautioned that implementing a new schedule LAUSD file photowould affect every student in the district. Transportation is perceived as the biggest hurdle. At a public forum held on January 26, 2012, the School Committee Chairman noted the committee had not made any decisions about changing start times. Seven possible start time plans are being considered. Featured speakers Richard Millman, Professor of Medicine at Brown University, and Lisa Bogan, a Connecticut League of Women Voters start time specialist, each gave presentations at the meeting. Professor Millman stated there are three age groups with varied sleep requirements and those from puberty until the mid 20’s require 9 to 10 hours of sleep to be fully rested. “High school kids get about 7 hours on average. When sleep deprived, performance goes down, moods are affected with more depression and substance abuse and driving can become dangerous.” Lack of sleep also leads to a weakened immune system. Professor Millman advised that the only way to improve on these symptoms is for students to get more sleep. The professor cautioned, “Changing start times is not a license to have kids go to bed later.” (Studies show kids generally heed this admonition.) Millman proposed a one hour start time delay. Ms. Bogan told the gathering, “You have to keep your eye on the prize. Remember the greater good when considering making changes to start times. This is about high school kids, not about you.” Consistent with literature noting teacher disapproval of later start times (Bronson & Merryman, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children (Twelve Books 2009), p. 37; Eight Major Obstacles to Changing School Start Times (2011) Nat. Sleep Foundation), a survey of teachers reflects overwhelming disapproval of a start time change. Parents split with 40% in favor, 44% against, and 16% with no opinion. (Barrington Schools (Spring 2012) Survey Results Presentation; Barrington Schools (Spring 2012) Survey Data Summary.) Elizabeth Henderson has authored a (science-free) petition opposing the change. A school representative advises that Barrington Middle School begins morning classes at 7:50 a.m. (Morse, School start time decision delayed (May 10, 2012); Rupp, School Start Time Survey Results (May 8, 2012) Barrington Patch; Warren, School Start Times Discussed, Debated In Barrington (Jan. 28, 2012); Duffy, Sleep On It — Bhs Students Respond To A Possible Change In The School Start Time (Jan. 25, 2012) Barrington Time; Editorial, Academics Should Drive School Start Time Debate (Jan. 24, 2012) Barrington Times; The Barrington Public Schools Health and Wellness Committee, Changing School Start Times: A Good Idea for Barrington?; Rupp, Moving School Start Time Ramps Up (Dec. 1, 2011) Barrington Patch; Rupp, Moving School Start Time Gets Push (Oct. 21, 2011) Barrington Patch.)

SOUTH CAROLINA — In September of 2016, when asked by the media about the prospect of starting school later, District Five Schools of Spartanburg County Superintendent Scott Turner said he’s seen some of the studies promoting later start times, but said issues with parents’ schedules, bus routes and extracurricular activities would greatly complicate district and school activities. District 5 elementary schools begin at 7:40 a.m., intermediate schools at 7:50 a.m., middle schools at 7:45 a.m. and 7:50 a.m., and high schools at 8:10 a.m. “In a perfect world, I’d love to start later,” Turner said. “I know sleep is an important thing, but you’d only be shifting the times of your sleep pattern if you go to bed and get up later. If we have to start elementary school later, because of bus schedules, high schools have to start even later. It’s like a balloon, if you squeeze it on one end, it’s going to come out somewhere else.” (Fox, School start times at odds with teens’ biological sleep needs (Sept. 24, 2016)

Spartanburg School District 4 Superintendent Rallie Liston said during his career in education, pushing back school start times hasn’t come up often. He said learning to be up early because of an important responsibility is a good life lesson for students. “I had to drink a second cup of coffee myself. I think a lot of people have to be at work at 7 or 8 (a.m.) in the real world,” he said. Dr. Cora Breuner, chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Adolescence Committee, said that argument is flawed because teens have different sleep needs than adults. “It makes no sense,” she said. And, she added, “they’re not going to always go to the real world from high school.” Woodruff High School, Woodruff Primary School and Woodruff Elementary School begin morning classes at 8 a.m., Woodruff Middle School (grades 6-8) begins at 7:50 a.m. (Fox, School start times at odds with teens’ biological sleep needs (Sept. 24, 2016)

Spartanburg School District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker said that as the father of two busy teenagers himself, he knows the kinds of demands teens have on their time. “Our teens today are being pulled into so many directions,” he said. But while school start times aren’t likely to change, Liston said district officials will always work to serve students in the best ways possible. “I’m not against experimenting or trying different things. I know what a lot of those studies say,” he said. “That’s not to say there’s more than one way of doing it.” Morning classes at Spartanburg High School begin at 8 a.m. (the tardy bell for the “Early Bird Orchestra” sounds at 7:25 a.m.), the Daniel Morgan Technology Center begins at 8:10 a.m., the middle schools begin at 7:45 a.m. (Carver) and 7:55 a.m. (McCracken), the elementary schools begin at 7:50 a.m. (Chapman, Houston, E.P. Wright, Cleveland, Jesse Boyd, Academy of Leadership), 7:55 a.m. (Pine Street), 8 a.m. (Meeting Street Academy), and 8:05 a.m. (McCarthy/Teszler School). The E.P. Todd School (K-8) begins at 7:45 a.m. and the Early Learning Center at Park Hills begins at 8:30 a.m. (Fox, School start times at odds with teens’ biological sleep needs (Sept. 24, 2016)

In September 2013, Georgetown County School District School Board Chairman Jim Dumm asked the district to look into later start times for high school students. Dumm, who also serves as executive director of Tara Hall Home for Boys, stated information continues to demonstrate that teens have trouble getting to sleep early and getting up early to meet school schedules and still get the sleep they need. Superintendent Randy Dozier said the district could put together a study committee, but recalled that a superintendent in Greenville once proposed a similar change. “He’s no longer with them[.]” The 2013-2014 bell schedule reflects start times ranging from 7:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. for the district’s four high schools. Middle schools begin between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.; elementary schools begin at 7:40 a.m. or 7:45 a.m. In November 2013, the study committee tabled consideration of later start times due to lack of interest. According to Dumm, less than half of the people selected for the committee showed up to meetings. (Norris, Committee drops plan to delayed school start time in Georgetown County (Nov. 18, 2013) WBTW News 13; Harper, Plan to delay school start times dead – at least for now (Nov. 15, 2013) Georgetown Times; Swenson, Panel wants more data on impact of later starts (2013) Coastal Observer; Somers, Chairman ask district to look at starting high school classes later in day (Sept. 20, 2013) WFMB News; Swenson, School chairman asks district to look at later start for high schools (2013) Coastal Observer.)

TENNESSEE — When the interim superintendent of Shelby County Schools, Dorsey Hopson, proposed a $1.18 billion district budget to the Shelby County Commission, Shelby Commissioner Steve Mulroy urged reconsideration of the district’s 7 a.m. high school start time. Mulroy stated, “Unfortunately this system has it exactly backwards[.]” Mulroy advised this is a problem and lack of sleep causes older students to struggle in the classroom. “Studies show the academic performance is significantly enhanced by allowing teenagers an extra few hours of sleep. They should be the ones starting later in the morning not at the crack of dawn[.]” The school district says it uses staggered busing so that younger children aren’t waiting in the dark in the mornings, and so older children can be at home with their younger siblings in the afternoon. It also frees up teen’s afternoons for jobs and extracurricular activities. Mulroy notes, “For years we’ve been saying we’re going to remake the unified system, start from scratch and make a world-class system, and our sole focus is going to be on educational outcomes, the students, what will help them learn the best[.]” Mulroy says if they’re serious about that the district should flip the start times, but he doesn’t expect they will change it. The 2013-2014 bell schedule shows that Shelby County high schools begin at 7 a.m., middle schools at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., and elementary schools at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. (Hammond, Some Argue School Start Times Could Hurt Academic Success (May 27, 2013) WREG Memphis; Dries, Funding Conundrum (May 24, 2013) The Daily News.)

In October of 2011, it was reported that the Cleveland City Schools Board favored delaying its current 7:25 a.m. middle and high school start time to “the 8:30 a.m. range.” Board member Tom Cloud was on the committee when the 7:25 a.m. start time was adopted, but he has since seen his sixth grade niece waiting for the bus at 6:05 a.m. The Director of Schools, Martin Ringstaff, commented that was too early for children to be waiting for a bus. “Six a.m. is just crazy.” Board member Richard Shaw stated said research shows high school students get better results with more sleep. “I used to see kids sleeping in the halls. It doesn’t make any sense.” On December 5, 2011, the school board adopted the following start times for the 2012-2013 academic year: high school, 8 a.m.; middle school, 7:50 a.m.; elementary schools, 8:40 a.m. On June 4, 2012, however, the board voted again to advance the elementary and high school start times. (Higgins, Cleveland School start, stop times change slightly (Jun. 6, 2012) Chattanooga Times Free Press; Bowers, Fleet size hampers bus plan (Jun. 5, 2012) Clevelend Daily Banner; Higgins, Cleveland school day to start 30 minutes later in 2012 (Dec. 7, 2011) Chattanooga Times Free Press; Higgins, Cleveland, Tenn., schools to study start and stop times (Oct. 4, 2011) Chattanooga Times Free Press; Board Members Question Early Cleveland School Start Times (Oct. 3, 2011)

WISCONSIN — Recognizing that studies have shown adolescents perform better in school if they have a later start time, the School District of Onalaska briefly evaluated flipping middle and high school start times with elementary school start times. For 2012-2013, the middle school begins at 7:30 a.m., the high school at 7:23 a.m., and the elementary schools at 8:25 a.m. By February 2013, however, the district had abandoned the plan due to after school daycare considerations for elementary school children, conflicts for high school athletes, and transportation considerations. Superintendent Fran Finco concluded, “It was a good, month long conversation.” For 2013-2014, high school start times will be delayed by 7 minutes to 7:30 a.m., middle school start times will advance by 5 minutes to 7:25 a.m. (No later start time for Onalaska middle & high school (Feb. 19, 2013); Sequist, Later Onalaska school start won’t work (Feb. 13, 2013) Onalaska-Holmen, Courier-Life; Nolte, Onalaska school district considers new school start times (Jan. 22, 2013) WXOW19.)

On April 10, 2012, the School District of Superior Board of Education voted to postpone a decision on whether to change the start and dismissal times of its eight schools. The new schedule would “streamline” bus routes, saving $170,000 in transportation costs. The proposal: delay Superior Middle School start time 15 minutes to 8:30 a.m.; delay Superior High School start time 25 minutes to 8:35 a.m. Four Corners elementary school would delay its schedule by 30 minutes to 9:15 a.m. All other elementary schools would advance start times by 30 minutes to 8:15 a.m. The proposed new start and dismissal times for Four Corners was a “major concern for parents and teachers[.]” Teachers and parents expressed concern over child safety, increased childcare costs, excessively lengthening the school day for elementary school children with some compelled to await 6:30 a.m. buses. On May 7, 2102, the board scrapped the plan to change bell times after learning of windfall healthcare savings. (Kram, Board scraps start time switch (May 9, 2012) Superior Telegram; Kram, Board delays decision on start times (Apr. 11, 2012) Superior Telegram.)

After receiving the results of a parent survey, Wauwatosa School District Superintendent Phillip Ertl’s proposal to advance middle and high school start times in order to address a traffic congestion problem was scrapped in favor of a plan to leave high school start times at 8 a.m. while delaying middle school start times by 5 minutes to 8:10 a.m. Elementary schools will begin at 8:20 a.m. (Romano, Proposal maintains high school start time (Apr. 24, 2012) Wauwatosa Now; Erves, Tosa school district to consider later start times for some schools (Apr. 23, 2012); Price, School District Proposes Earlier Start Times to Address Traffic Safety Concerns (Apr. 5, 2012) Wauwatosa Patch; see also, Romano, Wauwatosa high schools could start 20 minutes earlier (Apr. 11, 2012) Wauwatosa Now.)

Before being scrapped, a plan to add 16 minutes of instructional time to the 2012-2013 school day in the Sun Prarie Area School District would have delayed the start time of Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School from 7:55 a.m. to 7:58 a.m., and Sun Prairie High School from 8 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. The district’s middle schools begin at 7:40 a.m., the elementary schools at 8:20 a.m. (Wittrock, Concerns raised about school start time changes (Apr. 5, 2012) [start times for two middle schools would be advanced].)

road-to-nowhere-sign envisionmedia

WYOMING — In August 2015, it was reported that Campbell County Schools officials were considering delaying junior and high school start times while advancing elementary school start times for the fall of 2016. The district’s high schools begin at 7:40 a.m. (Campbell High), 7:45 a.m. (Westwood High School), and 8:04 a.m. (Wright Junior Senior High School). Junior high schools begin at 7:45 a.m. (Sage Valley, Twin Spruce) and 8:04 a.m. (Wright). District elementary schools begin as early as 7:40 a.m. and as late as 8:40 a.m. On November 3, 2015, more than 200 people attended a pair of school board meetings scheduled to address the topic. (See, district flyer.) “There was loud opposition” to the plan to change school schedules. The audience clapped for speakers opposing the proposed changes. No one spoke in favor of changing start times. On November 10, 2015, the board “seemed to come to a consensus” to defer the issue until 2017. (Brown, Trustees agree to drop idea of school start time changes for now (Nov. 11, 2015) Gillette News Record; Brown, The times, they may (not) be a-changin’ (Nov. 3, 2105) Gillette News Record; Brown, Trustees mull new start times for schools (Oct. 15, 2015) Gillette News Record;Brown, Public to weigh in on new school start times (Aug. 26, 2015) Gillette News Record; Brown, Trustees talk later start times (Mar. 15, 2015) Gillette News Record.)

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§ One Response to Schools Recently Going Nowhere

  • Birgitta Bower says:

    Thank You!
    I will be using your wonderful accumulation of info talking to school administrators.
    At Half Moon Bay High School, CA, school starts at 7.40, except Thursdays, when start time is 8.40. My daughter, a Freshman is taking 0 period PE which starts at 6.40 (against my wishes, but she wants to be able to take 7 courses). My son, a Junior, does not have 0 period because he would not trade in morning sleep for anything. The school wants to force him taking a 0 period remedial class because he transferred from another school and HMB has a Health/Geography (yep, they do sex ed, drugs, study skills, driver’s ed and geography in this mishmash course), that they say is a graduation requirement. Students are supposed to take this course at 0 period as a self-paced online course. They have to do it at school…at 6.40…or else take this Freshman course in its entirety for a year..
    As my son says, he took his Driver’s Ed course on line at home, and took the test at DMV and got his driver’s license. They don’t make people come sit at the DMV at 6.40 to learn Driver’s Ed. It doesn’t make sense to be at school at 6.40 to sit in front of a computer.
    Homework after school sports is bad enough. It breaks my heart to see my son’s light on at 3 AM if I happen to wake up.
    Yesterday I read an editorial on the Palo Alto online website, ‘The zero period hypocrisy’, abut how the Palo Alto High Schools in the wake of student suicides 5 years ago, moved start time to 8.30, but how they have reverted back to offering a 0 period. 4 students have killed themselves so far this year.
    (I admire your website. I know where it comes from, I made one on impacted canines,, when I found that the
    knowledge, skill and treatment in the Bay Area was very lacking.)
    Thanks again,

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