More Reflections on Start/End Times and Sleep

First, a big thank you to those of you who read and commented on my last blog from Nov. 6. I am so appreciative for your energy, questions, suggestions and encouragement. So many of you expressed “we can do this!” And of course, I agree.

I had the pleasure of being at Squalicum High School Wednesday morning to meet with staff.  I arrived early to set up – 6:30 am.  I was surprised that when I walked into the school, I was not alone. There were numerous students heading to 6:30 am zero hour classes. While I am sure they are passionate about why they were coming early, seeing their sleepy eyes and just imagining what time they actually woke up…well, it further solidified for me the need for us to figure out how to get high school to start later.

If we had high school start at say 8:30 a.m., and we were able to add more elective opportunities during the day (i.e. a 7 or 8 period schedule), those students I saw this morning could potentially get two more hours of sleep. Instead of coming to school at 6:30 a.m., we could start at 8:30 a.m. The pediatricians in our community would say this would be a game changer for kids. I agree.

It was serendipitous that this same day the Seattle Times published an article all about “pushing back start school start times to better match teens” biological clocks.” They acknowledge the complexity of this process while also pointing to the mounting evidence of improvements in student “health, mood, attendance and, in some cases, learning.”

I sent this link to staff to keep this topic on their radar, and to my surprise, dozens responded, some just to say thanks, but many offered compelling stories and anecdotes. Some staff commented about teaching the “zombie teenagers” during zero hour and first period and the difference in learning and engagement during third period and after.

And I heard from staff who are also parents:

  • “My three boys were late every day at Sehome and we live close to the school.  I couldn’t get them out of bed.  I had a squirt bottle of water that I would spray above their heads and it would slow mist down on them.  They hated it, but at least they would jump out of bed and start chasing me!”
  • “When our youngest was in high school and taking the zero period jazz band class, we literally had to drag him from the bed, wake him up in the shower (where he literally would fall asleep leaning against the wall), and stuff him with his instrument in the car with breakfast in hand (the buses do not run for zero period).  He told us he was pretty useless for the first part of jazz band because he couldn’t wake up.  We were so stressed out as a family trying to maintain this schedule every day for four years.  My husband and I would take turns, but the toll was significant.”
  • “I totally agree that growing youth need more sleep and I support the later start time. My son was in Showstoppers and since we live seven miles out of town (and he was the chauffeur for all of his friends), he woke up at 5:30 to arrive on time, often after being at rehearsals for whatever musical he was in at BHS. He was often sick from this demanding schedule. He powered through, but at a cost. He is now working on his BFA in Musical Theater. Even with a very rigorous schedule, he says it is easier than what he went through at high school. “

More thoughts to come…

Comments (86)

  1. Anonymous

    3 years ago

    I don’t think anyone has an actual problem with the idea of having high schoolers starting later. It’s when it means that elementary kids now have to begin an hour or more earlier to accommodate the high schoolers. Then they get home even earlier, and there are no sibling high schoolers to care for them, or the families who have to pay for care have to pay that much more for the earlier release for elementary. Sending my elementary kids to school earlier will add a significant cost and burden to my family and that is where I see the biggest issue. Besides, little kids need sleep, too!

    I would rather pay a year or two of added taxes to offset the cost of more busses or whatever would be needed to allow HS to start early and NOT force elementary to start early as well than I would to pay years and years of additional after-school costs should the little ones start getting out earlier than they already do.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I understand shifting start and end times is a complicated issue. We certainly don’t want to create financial burdens for families and we recognize child care as an important component of this discussion. Putting all schools on the same schedule is something I would love to do, but we haven’t found a way to make that work economically or logistically. Purchasing 40+ buses would require a special transportation levy, which you noted is something the community could consider. We would also need to hire additional drivers, though, which is a challenge even now with the routes we run.

      We are working hard to figure out a way to offer affordable before and after school programs either directly or by partnering with community organizations. Through collaboration with the YMCA, we are working toward having reduced-cost childcare available at all of our elementary schools.

      Re: elementary school starting an hour or more earlier, the proposal last year had them starting 45 minutes earlier (7:45 am). One of my wonders is if we could make 8:00 work (only 30 minutes earlier than right now). Thanks again for your feedback!

      • kim masser

        3 years ago

        I appreciate you putting your time into this topic. I agree, I agree, I agree. My son already has a difficult time with school, for so many reasons. If he were better rested, I’m sure he would have a chance at doing better. Thanks again.

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support! Your son is not alone. Many of our students face challenges at school, and it is our job as adults to remove or minimize as many barriers to their success as we can. We know so much more now about the importance of sleep and the real biological challenges our teens face as they try to get enough of it. I really think we can find a solution to this scheduling puzzle that works well for most of our families and does a better job of aligning with our students’ natural biorhythms … and messages like your motivate me to keep working on it. Thank you and take good care.

      • Doug

        3 years ago

        When this subject was first brought up I made the mistake of not giving input because I thought it was a no-brainer.
        PLEASE do the right thing Dr. Baker and move HS start times back. The science is there.

        • gbaker

          2 years ago

          Thank you for taking the time to comment now and to share your support! It is a more complex issue than it appears on the surface, and I sincerely appreciate the challenges that families have shared with me on both sides of the issue … some wanting a change, others wanting schedules to stay the same. And, like you, I believe the research on sleep and teens’ natural biorhythms is clear and compelling. We will keep this conversation going and I believe we can find a solution. Thanks again for weighing in!

      • Kathy

        3 years ago

        Elementary school started at 9am when I moved into this district 9 years ago. You already moved it to 8:30 and now you are suggesting moving it to 8am. I agree with other writers that it seems you are pitting one age group against another. I encourage you to find an option to benefit high schoolers that does not in any way affect middle school or elementary school start times. No one group should be sacrificed for the others.

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thank you for the reminder of past improvements we have made. One of the reasons we made the adjustment to elementary start times years ago (from 9 to 8:30) is that the old elementary school day was too short to do all our community wants for our kids. By lengthening the day (leading to an earlier start time) we are better able to support not just time for reading and writing, but we also have more PE, music, library … and world language at more and more of our elementary schools. We were also able to go from part-time kindergarten to full-time kindergarten for all kids.

          School bus logistics really make it difficult to simply shift to a single start/end time for all students, which is why changing the start and end times of one level (high school) will impact all levels. You can see my responses to some of the other comments for more details about the challenges related not just to owning sufficient buses but also to staffing them with enough drivers.

          I have been asked if we would ever just land on a schedule and not make any more adjustments. My answer is this: There really is no one perfect schedule that will meet everyone’s interests. There are just too many of us with competing wishes. So while I can promise you that we will always be very thoughtful about making changes, we will never stop trying to improve what we do on behalf of kids. That is the essence of The Bellingham Promise. We as a district and community promise to do all we can on behalf of our kids in order to ensure all our students have the best educational experience possible. That means continuous improvement and thus adjusting, changing, adapting … while also remaining thoughtful, engaging, transparent and strategic.

          Thanks again for your feedback!

  2. Guest

    3 years ago

    Hi Greg,
    I support the time change as well as adding extra periods to the day. Our kids need more time to explore new interests and discover new passions in life. Right now our kids have just enough time to get the requirements done. With the dropout rate so high at Sehome, it is so important now, more than ever, to keep our kids engaged. Many times it just takes one interesting class to keep the kids wanting to attend school.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for your support. We hope offering more electives during normal school hours will be a big help toward getting our kids the sleep they need and keeping them engaged in their learning.

  3. Christine Naughton

    3 years ago

    Please find a way to a later start time for our kids health and education. I am glad Seattle found a way. Clearly it can be done. The intelligent blogs on this subject tell me there is genuine understanding of the problem and need for change. Let’s stop talking about it and just do it.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your thoughts and taking the time to comment. I wish it was just an easy matter to change start and end times, but the reality is that it is a complicated issue with many considerations. However, having support from people like you certainly helps! Thank you!

  4. Sharon

    3 years ago

    I like the early start time… The old school my kids went to started at 9:45 and they were done at 3:15.. We like having more time in the afternoon to spent time together and get homework done before dinner or other activities. We live outside the district and I drive my daughter everyday and we are never late… Reading some of the above comments make me shake my head about dragging kids out of bed and such! Go to bed earlier then! Welcome to the real world kids!!!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Sharon. I appreciate receiving varied perspectives from families and understand that the current schedule works well for you. However, we are also hearing from other families, as well as the medical community, that tell us simply getting their teen to bed earlier is not always a simple task. We hope to find a balance that allows families to have time to spend together, but also allows students to get the adequate amount of rest they need so they come to school prepared and able to do their best.

    • Guest

      2 years ago

      The point is to prepare them for this “real world” you speak of. If they’re tired, they won’t do as well in school. Teens aren’t biologically designed to wake up early. The science is there, whether you believe it or not.

  5. Coleen Chase

    3 years ago

    Dr. Baker I applaud you for working to get a later start time for our high schoolers. I know it’s complex, but the effort is so appreciated! My daughter is in Showstoppers before school at BHS & also trains in figure skating in Canada some nights until 9 pm. Her first classes in the morning are AP Lang, Physics and Pre-Calc. She is a high energy, disciplined young person, but I honestly don’t know how she does it! She rarely complains but the other day she commented that she would “love to start her day later” and she hopes future classes will be able to do so.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support! Your daughter sounds like a highly motivated and engaged teenager; I like how her comment reflects her concern for the students that come into high school behind her. As you note, this is an important and complex issue and I appreciate hearing from families with a broad variety of perspectives. We will keep this conversation going and I believe we can find a solution to this puzzle that works well for as many families as possible.

  6. LC

    3 years ago

    Mr. Baker,

    While I haven’t always agreed with you, I really appreciate that you’re trying to continually look at how to improve on this situation.

    I have a 5 and 7 year old, who are driven to school each morning. My 7 year old especially, has a hard time in the morning. There is absolutely no way that she would be to school at 8am on any type of regular basis. He bedtime is currently 7:30, with her falling asleep closer to 8. She already struggles with breakfast, as she doesn’t like to eat right when she wakes up, and creating a super short morning would make this even more difficult.

    I am glad you want to help HS students. My friends with kids that age say the later start times are good. Since I don’t have older kids yet, I can’t say. I also know it’s not feasible for Bellingham to pay for the amount of buses it would require to solve this problem by having school hours be the same for all grades.

    High school students have a lot more of an ability to get themselves to school, whether by driving themselves, carpooling, riding the city bus, biking or walking.

    Perhaps the city should stop offering bus services for high schoolers and focus on the importance of start times. Or offer very limited service to those furthest from the school.

    I would recommend looking at other schools outside our area and how they’re solving this problem.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your perspective. I also appreciate the respectful way you have shared your concerns and the challenges you see for your family if elementary students start earlier.

      Given the research, it seems to make sense that our youngest students are the ones to start earlier. But you’re right that we don’t want to take away from their important sleep and getting ready time either. It’s definitely a balance. I also agree that many high school students and their families are likely to have more flexibility in terms of transportation options. You can be sure we are looking to other schools for ideas about what has – and hasn’t – worked in communities that have already addressed this issue. It seems to me that creative collaboration with WTA, parent associations, child care providers, and activity scheduling will each have a role to play in reaching a solution to this puzzle.

  7. Richy

    3 years ago

    So thankful that this discussion is under way. Not much to add from my perspective other than a hearty “finally,” as I completely agree with the comments of parents, the scientists cited in recent case studies, and the opinions posited here by Dr. Baker!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support! This is an important issue and I appreciate hearing from families with a broad variety of perspectives.

  8. Elizabeth Hartsoch

    3 years ago

    Thank you for having this open discussion. I have two kids in a BPS elementary school, and I totally support later start times for high schools, even if it means early start times for elementary. I am confident that the district will work to identify and support our more vulnerable community members in the transition. Elementary parent associations could also organize to help families. I agree with the comments on your last post; we can do this and we need to do it for our kids.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support. I also appreciate your acknowledgement of our district’s dedication to all families and the need to approach this issue thoughtfully. We know that transition logistics are an important part of making these kinds of changes work for families; we will absolutely collaborate with parent associations and would welcome their ideas about how to best communicate and manage any changes that may result from this ongoing conversation.

  9. Sherri Guiton

    3 years ago

    Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and open policy on all issues. There is more than enough research to point out the benefits of a restful full night of sleep at any time in our lives and it is especially important to cater to the biological clock in teens. Yes, please, starting middle school and high school later makes perfect sense. Let’s move forward on the logistics sooner rather than later to give parents plenty of notice in the schedule change for next year!

    Also, Dr. Baker, thank you for being the early bird yesterday then continuing on to many other important topics and decisions you make every day!

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support, both for this idea and for the inclusive nature of our approach to change. I’m glad the idea to start later for high school students resonates with you. We will give strong consideration to the transition logistics and will be sure to give families a lot of time to prepare related to any changes that may result from this ongoing conversation.

  10. LC

    3 years ago

    One last question:

    If full bus service were to be added so high schoolers could start later, what would the additional cost be (in the form of a levy) for the average, $300k home? Maybe putting it in actual numbers would let people assess whether or not it’s worth it.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Great comment and question. The purchase of say 40-50 more buses and the use of a special transportation levy to pay for it we could easily calculate. But the more challenging part is once you have those buses, where would you park them and then how would find 40-50 more drivers. We are challenged right now to find enough drivers. If we were to buy more buses so we only had one or two routes (vs three full routes that we have now), the number of hours each driver worked a day would decrease, which would make it even more difficult to find folks who want to work just a few hours in the morning and then come back in the afternoon and work a few hours. I know these are adult reasons, but they are very real and we have not yet found a solution. Thanks though for the encouragement to keep trying.

  11. Michelle

    3 years ago

    I went to high school in the south sound and we had a 4 period day but each semester was a full credit. This allowed for 8 credits/different classes a year instead of the previous schedule of 6 classes.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your experience. Alternative high school scheduling is part of our thinking around how to best solve this puzzle. Last year we had both a MS and a HS schedule committee that met to analyze different schedules, including a 4×4 schedule that you reference. Whether this 4×4 or a 7 period day, I think changing our schedule to allow for more courses is the direction we need to go. Thanks again!

  12. Guest

    3 years ago

    Hello,

    I just have a quick question about adding elective periods to the high school schedule. Could this be done at the end of the day and be an optional add-on? Many students participate in elective-type classes outside of school (music, dance, art, sports…). I would prefer to see added electives as an option for those who want it, but not another mandated add-on to make the high school day longer. Please consider that not all students benefit from a longer school day–many like to have the time at home for homework and family…or to participate in community sports & activities or volunteer opportunities. My daughter volunteered at the Humane Society last year, but can no longer do so during the school week because of her late release time from middle school.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Wonderful reflection and question. We have looked at building an optional period at the end of the day and have even tried it. The challenge occurs with ensuring students have transportation home and that all the support services are in place when we have kids in class, i.e. supervision, counseling, secretarial support, etc. And for many kids, if the school day feels like it is finished, they don’t want to stay around for an optional class period.

      It is also helpful to remember that one of the reasons we are considering adding more opportunities for more courses is the state has raised the graduation requirements for all districts. Kids now need a minimum of 24 credits to graduate. A six-period day does not allow much room for kids to mess up. We also hear from students that they just cannot take all the courses they want within our current structure. Last year I met with every student in all four high schools and heard this same story over and over again.

      If we extend the school day, it might only be for 15 more minutes or so. And if we move to a 7 or 8 period schedule, students would get many more course opportunities without extending the day too much. Thanks again for your thoughts and for acknowledging that just making a longer school day does not solve all the issues at hand.

      • Guest

        3 years ago

        My son’s high school increased their periods per day and he took “late start” as his first period class Junior and Senior years. That extra sleep really helped him to be successful. His student id also came with a city bus pass included. This may not be helpful in Bellingham because such a large number of students live off the bus routes. Just a thought.

        • gbaker

          3 years ago

          Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your family’s perspective about the benefits of a later start for your son. It is helpful to hear from people who have first-hand experience with the change we are considering. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts about partnering with WTA; as you noted, there are complexities to that possibility, but we are actively considering all partnerships that could support a transition to healthier start times for our students.

  13. David Brown

    3 years ago

    I imagine that there is plenty of clinical evidence to support what is fairly intuitive to us all – and made the clearer as parents: Health, in which proper rest and proper nutrition are principal, counts for quite a great deal, in education and more broadly.

    Thank you for taking a position on that in the schools – and pointedly for the High School years, in which I think there is rather compelling evidence about the importance and delicacy of its developmental juncture.

    We are very lucky in Bellingham that many of us live quite near the schools our children attend, but that alone is not sufficient.
    The morning should not be a calamity. Breakfast, along with its being the most important meal of the day (during which we make lunch ;)), is also one of the best social opportunities we have to share with our kids before we are all off to our assorted races of the day.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support! As you noted, this is an important issue with potential benefits and impacts that go far beyond sleep itself into breakfast and the overall start of the day for all our students and their families. Like you, I find the research deeply compelling, which motivates me to keep working on this challenge until we find a solution. Thanks again!

  14. Royce Civico

    3 years ago

    What would be the toll to have children that want to flex their start time from 7:45 AM to 9:00 AM? The schools should tack on two periods on the end. Then you can expand course offerings and children opting to participate in sports may utilize that last period(s) for that as a PE elective or allow them to work on “high school internships” such as auto shop or as a HVAC technician. We concentrate so hard on college bound kids that the rest of them are almost completely neglected. I think local businesses would LOVE to make high school apprenticeships for credit.

    To combat the busing, we should eliminate the option for high schoolers. Many of them drive or get their parents to take them anyway. I think that the Bellingham Schools should start working with WTA and other transit providers and get high schoolers on the city bus or on bikes. We need to move that way and get away from parental dependency. This will also have huge advantages environmentally. The city buses are going to run anyway, you might as well fill them with teens. Teach good citizenship because they will be more successful when they become adults.

    • Song

      3 years ago

      I am really liking the WTA and other ways to get the kids to school idea. I am also loving the idea of expanding course offerings: High School Internships and other life skills courses.

      • gbaker

        3 years ago

        Thank you for taking the time to comment and add your support to the parts of this conversation that are resonating with you the most. I agree; being able to offer more courses for kids is an exciting proposition. Whether they take the form of internships, robotics, world language, music, drama … they would be wonderful opportunities!

  15. Elizabeth

    3 years ago

    I agree that all kids need adequate sleep. Pitting different grade levels against each other for bus resources seems like an overly conflictive way to approach the problem, however.

    I agree with other comments in this blog that many high school students do have more options to walk or share rides to school, so the critical questions that remain for me are: How many high school students currently take the bus, and what transit resources (cost and numbers) are needed to get them to school at a later start time?

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your thinking. I hear what you are saying about wanting to avoid the sense of pitting levels against each other. That certainly isn’t our intention and I wish it didn’t sometimes feel that way. If we lived in a world without school bus logistics, we would have a much easier time with start/end times. 🙂

      In terms of numbers, we have approximately 1,500 elementary, 1,000 middle school and 1,000 high school students riding our school buses each day. That is about a third of all kids in our district, which means that a fairly significant number of our students and families rely on the yellow school bus.

      Some of the other commenters have asked about the cost of buying more buses so that we could simply have one schedule for all levels. If we wanted to transport all students at the same time, though, it isn’t just about buying more buses. The more challenging part is once you have those buses, where would you park them and how to find 40-50 more drivers. We are already challenged to find enough drivers. If we were to buy more buses so we only had one or two routes (vs three full routes that we have now), the number of hours each driver worked a day would decrease, which would make it even more difficult to find folks who want to work just a few hours in the morning and then come back in the afternoon and work a few hours.

      The complexities we are working through are significant, but we are working hard to find a solution to this puzzle that works well for as many of our families as possible. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and question.

  16. Jennipher

    3 years ago

    I fully support earlier start times for teens but not at the expense of sleep for elementary students. What does the science say about elementary students getting up at 6 am? Are we just shifting the sleep deprivation to the younger children? I would like to see the school district partner with WTA to provide transportation for high school students. Using the money currently paying for high school buses to supplement WTA would allow high school students to start later without changing elementary start times.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thinking; I sincerely appreciate hearing from families with different viewpoints.

      Research is pretty clear that the biological challenges with falling asleep get harder as children get into their teen years. Accordingly, it seems to make sense that our youngest students would be better able to adjust to an earlier start. But you’re right that we don’t want to place an undue burden on younger students as we resolve a burden for older ones. It is also important to remember that for many families, an 8:30 start time for their elementary kids is too late. We have many families trying to find childcare in the morning so that they can get to work by 8 am or earlier. No schedule will be perfect for everyone. There is definitely a balance to be found.

      We have been engaged in collaboration with WTA and others as we look for creative solutions to this complex puzzle. We have spent considerable time looking at how WTA could be part of our transportation plan. In communities that have robust public transportation, city buses make a lot of sense, particularly for older students. There are additional challenges involved here in Bellingham; for instance, WTA service is limited to just some parts of town. But we are continuing to consider every option, and I think it is likely that creative partnerships are going to be needed in order to make a new schedule work.

  17. Miriam

    3 years ago

    My kids are almost out of elementary school, and I have an incoming high schooler in the fall of 2016. I remember when elementary school started the latest – it was hard as a working person to arrange things so I could get them to school that late. They were also up early, and in general younger kids will wake earlier than adolescents, so medicine and science do support a later start time for high school and an earlier one for elementary. I also have a concern for those high schoolers who are driving themselves and maybe friends to zero hour in the dark, with not enough sleep. I really like some of the suggestions I’ve read for solving this – it is a very complicated situation.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and support. I also like many of the ideas and suggestions that have come forward in the process of this conversation. You said it well, it really is more complicated than it might at first appear, but I have faith that we will be able to find a creative solution that can work well for most of our families and provide a better match to our students’ natural biorhythms.

  18. DK

    3 years ago

    The busing seems to be the deal breaker. Everyone agrees that all the kids need to start later. Is there not a way to work with our Whatcom County Transit to provide route assistance for the high school kids. They are old enough to catch a city bus instead of a Bellingham School District bus. The monthly pass pricing could be negotiated with the transit group and in theory be a win-win situation for the schools and transit authority.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thinking. I agree; busing has so far proven to be our biggest logistical challenge related to this work. We absolutely have been and will continue to talk with WTA and others as we look for creative solutions to this complex puzzle. There are logistical challenges for the WTA to consider and overcome in order to make a partnership work, too. Among other issues, their current service area doesn’t include all of the areas our students need to access. (Really nothing about this topic is as easy as one might think!). But, like you, I believe there are ways to approach this that are win-win. Our Bellingham Promise is a community promise, and it will take our community working together in order to deliver on it. Thanks again for weighing in!

  19. Lisa Iversen

    3 years ago

    What a tremendous opportunity to develop/enhance community partnerships, e.g., WWU and WCC college interns in early education/elementary education programs, Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth (BAAY), etc, to offer programming for grade school aged kids for before/after school time should these schedules need to shift in order to have a later h.s. start time.

    It is far too easy for kids (grownups, too) to develop a litany of health issues and life challenges from chronic sleep deprivation.

    Thank you for your leadership, Dr. Baker, and for recognizing how important this issue is. I wholeheartedly believe in our community’s ability to make these changes on behalf of our youth.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support! I am also excited by the opportunities to partner with the organizations you mentioned, as well as parent associations, child care providers, and others in order to make real, positive differences in our students’ lives.

      This work dovetails nicely with the work we have been doing in recent years to increase the number of after-school opportunities for all our kids. Five years ago we had some elementary schools with no after-school programs while others had up to 18. Working with community partners such as the United Way, PTAs and the Bellingham Schools Foundation, as well as receiving funding like our million-dollar federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center, we are now offering so many more after-school opportunities. As part of our Project Free Education we are now able to ensure after-school programs at all of our elementary schools. We have also been reducing the costs of after-school athletics and activities for our middle and high school students.

      You are absolutely right about the long-term effects of sleep deprivation. The research is clear; good sleep (and enough of it!) is critical to our student’s ability to think well and truly engage in their learning. And the habits built in teen years carry on to affect adulthood in ways that aren’t always obvious. Like you, I sincerely believe in our community’s ability to find a solution to this puzzle.

  20. Kathy

    3 years ago

    I am fine with you making high school start later. I don’t think anyone would disagree that that is better for student health. However, no one is going to want their children to be at the level that ends up starting at 7:30 am. So, if you really want to do what is best for students, move some funding back to transportation and have more buses. That way, no one has to start at 7:30 am. That will solve the problem completely.

    To be clear, I do not want my elementary school child to start school at 7:30. I do not want my middle school child to start school at 7:30. It would be great if high school started later by the time they get to Bellingham high.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and preferences. Some other commenters have also suggested we buy more buses so that we could have just one or maybe two schedules. The challenge isn’t just about funding to buy more buses; our community could resolve that with the passage of a transportation / bus levy. The harder challenges have to do with things like where to keep the additional buses and how to find 40-50 more drivers (as is, it is hard to keep our driving team fully staffed).

      You may be pleased to know that one of the ideas we have been exploring would have elementary start at 8:00, high school at 8:30 and middle remain at 9:15. It seems like this approach could be a relative win-win for all.

      The complexities we are working through are significant, and I’ve come to realize that there really is no one perfect schedule that works for everyone. But I also truly believe we can find a solution to this puzzle that aligns better with our students’ natural biorhythms and works well for most of our families. Thanks again for your input.

  21. Guest

    3 years ago

    I am a high school student in this district and I believe that making the start time later isn’t beneficial to those of us in high school. We are already used to the schedule we have now, and if starting later means ending later, there wouldn’t be enough time in the day for us to do what we need to. Getting out at 2:15 has made our days seem longer, and it allows us to have enough time with family, with homework, with sports, and also extracurricular activities. I believe that keeping the schedule that we already have is completely fine.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      First, thank you for being actively engaged in your school district and larger community. I’m really pleased to see a student commenting here! I am also glad the current schedule works well for you and your family, and I appreciate the value you place on finding a good life balance with time for family, school/homework, sports and other activities … that is a challenge many of us face well into adulthood. 🙂

      Last year, Assistant Superintendent Steve Clarke and I met with every class at every high school and we heard tons of feedback. Many students shared a similar perspective, noting that if starting later means getting out later, their afternoons are already very full. We as a community will need to continue to figure out how to maintain a healthy balance for our students. It’s not easy, but our doctors would say to start with adequate sleep and build from there.

      I’ve come to realize that there is not going to be one perfect schedule that will meet everyone’s wishes. But I also believe we can find a schedule that better supports what we now know about our students’ biological needs while still working well for a majority of our families. We will not make any changes lightly; this conversation is ongoing and I am taking your perspective into consideration. Thanks again for taking the time to share your input!

  22. Anna Malpica

    3 years ago

    I fully support an earlier start time for elementary, a later start time for high school, and more restricted bus runs.

    I have a daughter in Storm Singers at SQHS, which means that I provide transportation to zero hour classes every day. I have a second grader at Roosevelt. We live too far away for him to walk or ride his bike (top of Alabama Hill – plus he’s too young to do that unaccompanied), so I provide transportation for him to school every day as well. There was a bus run for my daughter to get to Roosevelt when she was in elementary school, but that run has been eliminated – so now I am required to provide transportation. Still, we are making it work.

    And that is my point – we are making it work. Many posts here have stated that there is no way to make everyone happy; but we can all do something to help the whole to make it work: neighbors pulling together car pool; taking turns staying with the kids one day a week; encouraging businesses (like BAAY) to increase opportunities for after school enrichment programs – we can all do something to help make it work!

    I support the reduction in transportation, even though it means a bit more child care and creativity for my family. Could we reduce even more bus runs and/or have less bus stops to encourage families to find creative ways to get the kids to and from school?

    I fully support extending the learning day for high schoolers to enable them to earn the credits they need. By adding minutes to the high school schedule, could we eliminate the need for zero hour classes?

    By everyone adjusting just a little bit, could we have start times of 8:00 (elementary), 8:45 (high), and 9:30 (middle)?

    I appreciate those who are offering suggestions and solutions as well as stating their opinions. How can we make this work?

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      I appreciate your enthusiasm and can-do attitude! The kinds of creative efforts you describe are at the heart of The Bellingham Promise. We have made a collective commitment to the children of our community, and it really does take all of us chipping in, doing what we can so that – together – we can make a lasting, positive difference for all of our students.

      Thank you for taking the time to chime in with your thinking about start/end times, extending high school schedule, and working collaboratively with parents, community partners and others in order to find a good solution to this puzzle. Of note, one of the alternative schedules we are considering is almost exactly as you describe: 8:00 start for elementary, 8:30 start for high school, with middle schools staying the same and starting at 9:15.

      To your question about zero-hour classes: yes, if we move to an extended HS day with more elective opportunities, our intention would be to eliminate the need for zero-hour courses. So for those kids currently starting at 6:30 am, an 8:30 am start time would allow two more hours in the morning.

      We will keep the dialogue going and, like you, I believe we will find a solution that can work well for the majority of our families. Thank you for being so engaged in your children’s education and in our schools in general. I appreciate your comments.

  23. Tanya Storm

    3 years ago

    I have a Kindergartner now, and I would happily send her to school at 7:45 if it meant she could start later in high school. She is up and at ’em quite early most days, as I was as a child. And when I was a teen, I remember having to be at school by 7:30 and how 1st period was just pretty much a total loss. One thing that truly shines through in all of your blogs is that you CARE Dr. Baker. I see that, and I deeply appreciate it. And I count myself extra lucky to be in this school system because of that. Thank you for continuing to pursue an answer to this – it sure needs one!
    ~ Tanya Storm (Roosevelt Elem. Parent)

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your perspective and reflection about your own teen years. Your experience is typical and aligns with what we know now about our students’ developing brains. I agree with your sentiments, and I deeply appreciate your trust and respect. I, too, count myself and my family extra lucky to be a part of this school system and community! We’ll keep the dialogue going until we find a solution to this puzzle.

  24. rebecca thario

    3 years ago

    I have observed the effect on a 7:30 a.m. or so start time on
    all five of my kids. Despite my best efforts to maintain a bedtime to try to ensure enough sleep, I still have kids that are irritable and not able to sufficiently address the homework they bring home every day.
    I strongly support a schoolstart time of at least 8-830 A.M. for at least middle and high school students
    thanks,
    Becky Thario

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Hi Becky,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your support! You are not alone; I’ve heard this sentiment, nearly word for word, from more parents than I can count. We will keep the dialogue going until we find a solution to this puzzle.

  25. Teri Booth

    3 years ago

    As a parent of a year round club swimmer, that gets up at 4:45 am to do religious classes before she swims at 5:30 am, I disagree with a later start time for high school. I have seen first hand how our bodies can be trained and the success as a person that comes from an early to rise early to bed philosophy. She is much brighter mentally in the morning than in the afternoon, and doing difficult classes like math and physics in the morning when she is brightest makes her whole day go better. In a few short years, high school students will be in college and in the work place and the world doesn’t cater to employees who sleep in. I think we need to train them young to get up and be productive. Unfortunately not all of our kids will work for Amazon and Google so they’ll need to get up at a conventional work hour.

    • gbaker

      3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thinking about this issue. It is important to me that I hear from our whole community, including its many perspectives, as we continue this dialogue.

      In sleep research, it has been shown that there is a good deal of variation within the range of natural sleep cycles (circadian rhythms) that are considered normal. You may have heard of early birds and night owls. According to research, about ten percent of us are naturally early birds, about 20 percent of us are naturally night owls, and the majority of us naturally land somewhere in between. On top of this natural set point we each have, we all go through developmental milestones that shift our natural sleep-wake cycles at different times of our lives. That’s why it is biologically easier for young children to sleep and wake early and biologically harder for teenagers, regardless of the set point they will have in their adult life.

      Those natural set points aren’t the last word on how we choose to schedule our lives, of course. As your family has shown, we each personally and within our family culture arrange our lives in ways that work best for our situations. It sounds like your family has built a schedule around our current start/end times that fits your philosophy and needs and I am glad that it is working well for you.

      I have heard from many others in our community, though, that the current arrangement of start/end times is not working well for their families. And research would back them up; it is not a measure of laziness that so many teens have a hard time getting to sleep earlier in the night.

      Regardless, I would agree with you that personal discipline is an important life skill for all of our students to develop. We have high expectations for our students, including regular and timely attendance, active engagement in their own learning, and accountability for their choices. Like the early schedule your family has set, these expectations support all of our students as they develop deeper discipline and grit.

      You also referenced the need for our graduates to be able to function well at college and in the workplace. Like natural biorhythms, there is also a wide variety of work schedules in the world these days. An 8:30 high school start time, if we were to move to something like that, would still be well within the norm of typical start times for many “day jobs,” and would better match what we now know about most teenagers’ natural circadian rhythms.

      It is a complex issue, with no one solution that will be “right” or best for everyone. I do appreciate your feedback and I respect the values you expressed. Thank you for taking the time to engage in this conversation.

  26. Guest

    2 years ago

    I’m 100% in favor of later start times. The bulk of the scientific research indicates this is better for teens. I can vividly remember first period in high school and being so tired I could hardly move. Let’s work to find a way to make this happen so our teens can do better in school. Being a young adult is hard enough without being tired.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to add your comments to the conversation. I agree with your sentiments and appreciate your support for this important work.

  27. Guest

    2 years ago

    Thank you for keeping this idea / issue in front of us. I think it makes sense to make the changes. Families will adjust over time.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      I appreciate your support! I agree that this topic is worthy of our collective attention and will keep the dialogue going. Thanks for your comment.

  28. Gina

    2 years ago

    As The mother of a middle schooler at Shuksan, soon to be at Squalicum,I can say the two of us have been waiting for this early schedule. She is currently getting home from school at 4:30pm. She has time to put her things down and freshen up by dinner at 5pm. She begins her homework at 6pm and isn’t usually done until 8pm or later.
    Squalicum is much farther than Shuksan, so I can only imagine the time she will be home. (I am in bed by 8 because I am up at 3:30 am for work )

    As we move into the subject of “biological clocks”, I’m not sure that is more than a myth. I believe in sleep training. If you stick to your children and say enough is enough, they will go to sleep and their wake up time won’t matter.
    The truth is, the more we cater to what makes our kids comfortable, the less they are prepared for the real world. I don’t think a college professor or an employer will care what time you have to wake up to be on time. It’s time the kids learn to take it upon themselves to be present and prepared!

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to share your family’s experience and preferences. I can relate to the challenges of getting evening activities done within the context of a busy family. Your comment points out why end times are as important a factor in this conversation as start times.

      I agree that personal discipline, and the ability to be present and prepared, are important life skills for all of our students to develop. I believe that the high expectations we have for students – including regular and timely attendance, active engagement in their own learning, and accountability for their choices – help them to develop that discipline and grit that will serve them well at college and in the workplace.

      If we were to move to something like an 8:30 high school start time, I believe we would be making the school schedule work better for the majority of our students, while still starting their day at a time that is consistent with many “day jobs.” (Not as early as yours, of course; it sounds like you model for your family the commitments required to make a very early start time work!).

      It is a complex issue, with no one solution that will be “right” or best for everyone. I appreciate your feedback and I respect the values you expressed. Thank you for taking the time to engage in this conversation.

  29. Guest

    2 years ago

    I feel that the later start times would eventually be a positive thing for everyone. You are never going to please the entire community. Everyone has their personal inconveniences that this would cause temporarily. We as parents always figure it out. We adjusted to the early release times and the Friday teacher work days. We adjusted to school starting earlier in the year.
    If you feel that this is the best move please do it, despite the inevitable grumblings. We have seen study after study that this the best move for students optimal learning potential.
    People will adapt.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for your comment and your support! I appreciate what you have said about our ability to adapt when the changes are important and will benefit kids. I agree, and I promise to keep working on this issue. I believe we can find a solution that works well for most of our families and is a better match for what we now know about teens’ developing brains. Thanks again for your comment!

  30. Annie Taylor

    2 years ago

    Thank you for pushing this conversation forward and not letting us off the hook as a district in considering this very important issue. No matter how many individual parents have anecdotes of how sleep discipline worked for their child, the evidence is becoming overwhelming that it is better for teens to start later. The Bellingham Promise is about doing what is best and providing opportunities for all students, this means doing what is right for the most of our children.

    High school is not a time to practice for the schedules kids will have as adults. It is a developmental stage that they get to grow through–one that we now know is safer and more productive for them when we respect their biological clocks.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you, Annie. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for sharing your perspective, and we appreciate your support.

  31. joel gillman

    2 years ago

    I think that middle school should start earlier–I have noticed how focused my students are in the morning–including the fact that have handfuls come in 45 minutes to an hour before our current start time–and they invariable produce exceptionally clear, coherent–and dare I say, visionary work during that time–which would be impossible to accomplish in the afternoon.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Hi Joel,
      Thank you for your comment about middle schools starting later. I understand your concern about your students losing focus in the afternoon. I only wish we could start all schools at the same time (or at least closer to the same time), but as you probably know transportation is an important factor in all of this. Our drivers need 45 minutes in between each bus run, and middle school has traditionally had the “untraditional” (later) schedule.
      I should also add that we are trying to provide more before and after-school opportunities, especially at elementary and middle school, so I love that you have observed visionary work, even before the bell!
      A lot of our focus is on the school day, but I appreciate creative ways to incorporate a child’s strengths. Maybe for some students, doing homework before school makes more sense than doing it after.
      Thanks again for adding your voice to this discussion!

  32. high school student

    2 years ago

    as a high school student and as sister. I think starting later would cause problems for family’s that have their older children pick up their younger children and this would cause students that work to take later shifts and that would mean not getting home till late and still having to do homework. the time we have now is fine getting out at 2:15 gives me time to pick up my younger brother and time to go home to do homework then to spend time with my family and next year would give me time to start a job. I like that your trying to help but in my opinion it would really mess up so many students schedules.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation. I am happy to see so many students here on the blog and you reference an important point. Many families rely on older students to watch their younger siblings before or after school. To help with that issue, school district staff are working closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA to be sure that good quality, low-cost after-school care is available at every elementary school. The details are still being worked out, but I want you to know it is something we are focused on.

  33. Thanh

    2 years ago

    I think that giving students the opportunity to have more classes would be better for more credit gaining opportunities. However, with that, I also think that having a later class start and end time may interfere with sports and other activities after school- practices may go on late into the night and disallow students to do school work. 8 period days- I feel- may not necessarily give students a good of a learning experience if they feel “crammed”. I feel like a 7 period days would be a good balance in between. Possible start and end time could be from 7:45 to 3:20 (somewhat similar to what Bellevue is doing – except later start time) or somewhere along this line. These ideas are just something to consider.

    Thank you.

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your ideas here. Your comments speak to the importance of finding a good balance … balance between sleep needs and the logistics of after school activities, balance between adding opportunities and avoiding overload. I appreciate and share those concerns; I believe we can find a solution that works better for a majority of our students and families and is mindful of the issues you have raised. Thank you again for commenting.

  34. Guest

    2 years ago

    I’m a high school student who has just started as a freshman. I’ve taken the time to read most of the comments on this proposal and took into consideration as to how the parents feel about this situation. I have yet to read a comment from a student in the Bellingham School District. So maybe mine will be the first. Speaking from being in this school district since I was in kindergarten, the times have been fine with me but I’ve always looked forward to high school so I could get out earlier and have a social life after school. The times I’ve gotten out before left me with little time for me to have free time due to sports, activities, and homework. Now as I’m FINALLY in high school I cherish how much more time I get to myself and family. With your proposal on mainly changing high school times later, I thought about how that could affect not only me but other students in high school. I’m looking forward to starting my future as an adult with getting a job. I’m also starting driver ed in January from 7-9 pm. With getting home at about 3, I’d have little to no free time for myself as to if you were to set high school times to get out after 4, not to mention how long it takes to get home after that. My homework usually ranges from 1-2 hours on an average day. Getting home latest at 5, homework for at least an hour, and at least 3 hours of work; leaving not much time for myself, family, or social life. I do realize it’s a choice for teens to work but most teens are preparing for their future; saving up for a car, college, apt, etc. Not only would you be taking away our free time, but also our preparation for becoming a responsible adult. A couple comments as to having high school start later so their younger kids can be watched at the bus stop, taken to school, or be babysat in the morning by the teens starting later. High scholars with siblings in elementary school would not benefit from the later start. Parents who work too early in the morning to drop off their kid at school or wait at their bus stop would then rely on their high school teen. Having the teen wake up earlier to be responsible for their sibling would take away from their sleeping time and make it worse due to having an activity before school even starts that can make them more tired. Of course not all teens have siblings they’d have to take care of but take into consideration of the privileges the parents are going to take with that. Not only is high school a bigger deal for education as to middle and elementary; but the sports are taken more seriously. Getting more practice in for a scholarship to a college they’re thinking of attending. With less time after school to do things teens may feel the need to quit some of their after school activity’s losing hope in their education. Not to mention the kids who may not be able to adjust their schedule as flexible as others. Naturally a lot of teens can’t fall asleep till after 11pm, some may choose to stay up later because their schedule’s changed and they think since I get an extra hour to sleep in, I’ll stay up another hour. Their sleeping schedule will stay the same, if not the same then worse. From my sleeping experience the more I sleep the harder it is for me to get up and have more energy for the day. If I fall asleep after 11pm it’s easier for me to get up at 6am. I may be one of the few who has a sleeping schedule like this but no matter how much sleep I get; I always have the energy to learn. If you want students to be more awake during the morning; a suggestion is replacing our school smoothies with coffee. People take time to wake up earlier to go get their coffee at a shop or take their time to make it, but if it was right there at school you wouldn’t waste time trying to wake up earlier. I’m hoping you’re willing to go and ask some teens about the later start at our schools, not just listen to the parents comments. After all we’re the one’s attending the school; we should have most say as to what the change should be or if it could be kept the same. Thank you for taking your time to read my comment 🙂

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with students here; thank you for taking the time to share your perspective with me.

      As I’ve noted in response to earlier comments, the most important factor driving this proposal is health and what we now know about teen brains and sleep patterns. The American Pediatric Association, representing doctors around the country, released a new report last spring directly requesting that school districts change start times for middle and high school to no earlier than 8:30 am. They say adolescents’ bodies are not fully functioning that early, regardless of how much sleep they have had. So even if some students (like you perhaps) still get the same amount of sleep within a schedule that starts later, research is telling us that students will be able to perform better starting at 8:30 than they can when they start earlier. Doctors and researchers say a later start time will have an impact not only on student achievement, but will also reduce student driving accidents, decrease obesity and support better overall health.

      I have heard a lot of feedback from your peers. Many students share concerns that are similar to yours, noting that if starting later means getting out later, afternoons are already very full. They also want to be sure that a change to the bell schedule doesn’t result in more homework that would, as you note, take up more of students’ already tightly scheduled afternoons. As we talked more about the idea and the reasoning behind it, though, many students – even those who started out with strong concerns – were able to see benefits to changing the schedule.

      I also want you to know I hear your point about being able to help care for younger siblings. Many families rely on older students to watch their younger siblings before or after school. To help with that issue, school district staff are working closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA to be sure that good quality, low-cost after-school care is available at every elementary school. The details are still being worked out, but it is something we are focused on.

      We as a community will need to continue to figure out how to maintain a healthy balance for our students, so that you and your peers continue to have time for family, school/homework, sports and other activities. There is not going to be one perfect schedule that will meet everyone’s wishes. It’s not easy, but our doctors would say to start with adequate sleep and build from there. And I truly believe we can find a schedule that better supports what we now know about our students’ biological needs while still working well for a majority of our students and families.

      Thank you, again, for taking the time to connect with me about this issue and how you feel about it.

  35. Guest

    2 years ago

    After reading all of the comments, I notice how the high schoolers themselves all oppose later start times…

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to share your observation; I notice the same trend among commenters here. It may be helpful for you to know that this is just one of many venues students have had to share their thoughts on this issue. In addition to direct messages I’ve received from students, Assistant Superintendent Steve Clarke and I met with every class at every high school last year to talk about the possibility of changing start/end times and high school schedule. The students were not shy; we engaged in thoughtful conversations and heard a lot of feedback. Many students shared concerns that were similar to those you’ve seen here, noting that if starting later means getting out later, their afternoons are already very full. As we talked more about the idea and the reasoning behind it, though, many students – even those who started out with strong concerns – were able to see benefits to changing the schedule. There is no one “right” solution that will be better for everyone, but it is important that we hear from everyone impacted by this possible change, including students.

  36. Guest

    2 years ago

    Changing the class schedules to all block day every day is our main concern here. Changing start/end time shouldn’t be related to changing class schedule.

    For example, during sports season, a student leaves 2 periods early for matches MWF, he/she can potentially miss a whole week of class because the class offers every other day. It is same for any other absences. Since the class is not offered every day, any miss of class is harder to make up, especially for the AP classes. For many subjects, learning everyday helps understanding. We feel the block day change is much more substantial than start/end time change. It might hinder student learning, which is ultimately against the purpose of the changes. It might be better to study more on the daily block schedule impact before bundling the change with start/end time.

    Thank you!

    • gbaker

      2 years ago

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments about the possible changes under consideration. You reference important points and I want you to know that I also see the possible changes (re: start/end times and the type of bell schedule) as related but separate questions. As you noted, they could be implemented on different timelines if, for instance, we were to agree as a community that it is appropriate to move forward with a change to the start / end times but feel that the bell schedule question needs more time to process. No decisions have been made, yet.

  37. high school student

    2 years ago

    Dear Dr. Baker:

    I am an 11th grade student at Bellingham High School. In my English class we have been discussing school start and end times. I understand there is a proposal to start high school at 8:30am and end at 3:30pm. Dr. Baker, I strongly urge you to not let this happen because I don’t like school and I want to get out as soon as possible.

    There are several reasons why I don’t want this proposal. First, it may affect some students’ schedules. Some students might have jobs, after school sports that may extremely affect students and others. Some students may need their job so bad that they might have to drop out of school. Also, you can’t just change the schedule and expect students to change their schedule because to them that might be a big deal. Some students probably want a better future and they can’t get a better future if they have to drop out of school. If just one student can’t go to school because they need their job then you should not make this happen.

    It’s true that some people disagree with me. They say that they want more sleep and if you set the time to 8:30am then they will be able to sleep longer. I disagree because if they have more time to sleep they are just going to think like, “I don’t have to get up ‘til 7:30, I can stay up for another hour,” and the student will still be late. My opponents also say they don’t have a job so it doesn’t affect them. This may be true but that’s just a couple of students. More students have jobs than you might think.

    Dr. Baker, I think you should just leave the schedule right where it is. It’s working just fine for everybody this Is a good action for you to take because students need to learn how to go to bed early and get up in the morning.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew Chapanar

  38. Highschool student

    2 years ago

    Dear Dr. Baker:

    In my English class, my teacher, Ms. Isaly brought up an important subject about changing the school time hours. I understand that you are considering a change so that elementary schools would start at 8:00 am and high schools start at 8:30 am. Dr. Baker, I believe that the arrival time hours should be extended for students to get more sleep and wake up at a later time.

    One reason why I believe school hours should be at a later time is because teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night. If teens sleep 8-10 hours per night, schools would expect more teens to arrive to class on time for teachers to take attendance. This would also be effective because as researchers say “teens that get more sleep do better academically, with better standardized test scores and better quality of life.” Another reason why schools should start at a later time is because early sleep hours can cause health problems. Students who wake up at early hours happen to be more obese, depressed, have mood swings and/or have suicidal ideation. There is no doubt that health problems are a big deal for student education. Therefore, if students wake up at a later time, this would increase student health such as lack of sleep during school hours.

    My opponents would say that sports/extracurricular are affected and students get home later. I extremely disagree with that argument. Even if students would arrive to their homes earlier, they would become lazier and just sit on their couch and do nothing until they sleep. Therefore, homework should keep every student occupied until it is time to sleep and a later dismissal would help students be more active in doing their daily routines.

    I strongly recommend a later arrival at the beginning of school times because it would improve health issues with student behavior, and academics. I urge you to take action with this proposal so that students will be well rested to wake up at a later time and arrive to school on time.

    Sincerely,

    Oscar Merlus

  39. Clara Johnson

    2 years ago

    Dear Dr. Baker:

    I am a 9th grade student at Bellingham High School. In my English Skills class, we have been discussing about the start and end times for Schools. I understand there is a proposal to change the start times for schools so that elementary schools start at 8:00am and high schools start at 8:30am. Dr. Baker, I strongly urge you to keep the school times the same just the way they are.

    There are several reasons why I disagree with this proposal. First, some teens need to pick up their younger siblings and need an earlier dismissal to get there on time. Some of their parents expect them to go pick up their little brother or sister. And, if the school times change, the teens will be late to pick up their siblings and then they will have to wait an hour for them to get picked up. Also, some teenagers have jobs after school. This will penalize students who work because they will have to stay up later to finish their homework.

    It is true that some people disagree with me. They say that lack of sleep can cause major health problems: like depression and anxiety. This may be true but changing the times still won’t make the kids go to sleep early they will just stay up longer. My opponents also say late times help the disadvantaged students who can’t get transportation if they sleep in/miss the bus. This may be true but it would be their fault to fall back to sleep for 5 or 10 min to miss the bus.

    Dr. Baker I implore you not to change the school times.

    Sincerely,

    Clara Johnson

  40. Trevor lampman

    2 years ago

    Dear Dr. Baker:

    I am a 9th grade student at Bellingham High School. In my English skills class we have been discussing later start times for schools. I understand there is a proposal to make it so that high schools. Start at a later time but elementary schools. Starts 30 mins earlier. Dr. Baker I extremely urge you to keep the high schools end at 2:15 but I get why you want them to end at 3:30 and for me when i have a job and it will be hard to do my job if the schools end at 3:30.

    There are several reasons why i promote this proposal. First, I think that we could start later not at 7:45 but at 8:30 I think that it’s a good argument but i think that we need to change some things to it like getting to school at 8:30 and ending at 2:15 because if we do this then people could go to work right after school also do their homework, and housework so they are not up until 11:00 or 12:00 at night doing their homework. Another point to consider is students with jobs they can’t get out of school to go work they are here doing school work but not at their job and making money and the people that are 18 and that live alone, they would need to pay rent.

    It is true that some people disagree with me. They say that it will be a good idea to start later so teens do not have to wake up early this is not a valid argument, because teens need to learn to get up early for their job in the next 1-4 years from now.

    Dr. Baker, I expect that you will look at this and think about it. I hope you like my ides this is an important action for you to take because. I think that I have made a good idea and I hope that you write me back I love the idea of having the kids getting up later than we you used to .If you have any questions or comments please email me at Trevorlampman@gmail.com.

    Sincerely,

    Trevor Lampman

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