The Science of Adolescent Sleep

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear Families and Community,

As this school year comes to an end, we want to remind our families about our new start and end times for elementary and high school, which go into effect next school year (2017-18). Our middle school bell times are staying the same. If you haven’t received it already, we’re sending out reminder postcards with the new start/end times. For those of you who are new to our district (or new to the conversation), I wanted to share some history about our process and rationale for making the change.

This week’s New York Times article, The Science Of Adolescent Sleep, summarizes the basis for making the change: to accommodate the developmentally-appropriate sleep needs, behaviors and patterns of adolescents.

And in case you need a quick refresher: here is the decision we announced last spring, and here is some additional information about our process.

While many families are excited about the new start times (later for high school at 8:30 a.m. and earlier for elementary starting at 8 a.m.), some have wonders. One common question I hear is “won’t the earlier start time impact sleep for our youngest students?” Medical professionals say if there is one group of students (elementary, middle or high) that needs to start earlier, then it should be elementary students, because they are more likely to go to bed earlier (compared with a middle or high school student) to still get the sleep they need.

Because our district covers 100 square miles with 22 schools, we can’t have all levels and schools starting at the same time (mostly due to logistics like transportation), so we stagger our start and end times.

Then, the big question is, how late can the earliest school start and our last school can be dismissed? During our engagement process in 2015 to survey students, staff, families and our community, and factoring in transportation, after-school athletics/activities, family schedule constraints (from jobs to evening commitments), we learned that most are comfortable with elementary starting at 8 a.m. and that the majority of folks want students done with school before 4 p.m.

If you have other questions or comments about the new start and end times, feel free to comment on my blog. You can always email me, too, but one benefit of the public-facing blog is that you can see my responses to all questions. As always, I look forward to your feedback. If you still have questions or thoughts or would rather not comment on the blog, I’d be happy to meet with you and/or a group of families to learn more.

Thanks,

Greg

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