District 51 to study early start time of high schools; CDC findings indicate starting before 8:30 a.m. may be unhealthy for teens | PostIndependent.com

District 51 to study early start time of high schools; CDC findings indicate starting before 8:30 a.m. may be unhealthy for teens

In light of research and community interest in the topic, School District 51 is studying the possibility of later start times for secondary schools. The district will report its findings in September.

Numerous studies have found sleep-deprived adolescents are more likely to be overweight, depressed, use drugs or alcohol, and perform poorly in school. Unfortunately, less than a third of high school students in the U.S. sleep at least eight hours on school nights.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later for adolescents as a way to confront the problem. A CDC and U.S. Department of Education analysis of 2011-12 school start times found just 17.7 percent of 39,700 U.S .middle schools, high schools, and combined junior/senior highs studied begin classes at 8:30 a.m. or later. The analysis is highlighted in a CDC article published today at this link

“We’ve been watching the emerging data on start times up to and including the report released today by the CDC. It makes sense for us to align start times with the biological clocks of teens as a way to improve their learning experience at school,” District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said.

School District 51 middle and high schools begin the day between 7:20 and 7:40 a.m. most weekdays, while elementary schools convene later in the morning (most at 8:50 a.m.). Staggered start times between elementary and secondary schools allow individual buses to run multiple routes.

“Our current staggered start times are out of financial necessity,” District 51 Chief Operations Officer Phil Onofrio explained. “The direct solution is having enough buses to transport students simultaneously but we don’t have the funding for that. We’ll begin looking at all options to see if we can adjust to these findings.”

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