High school students in Academy School District 20 will be able to get a little more sleep starting next school year.
The district is changing start times at all its schools for the 2012-13 school year.
All traditional high schools will start at 7:45 a.m., compared to current start times as early as 7:05 a.m.
Changes for elementary and middle schools will not be as great, but the adjustments standardize so-called contact time (classroom time) to seven hours a day at every building.
“We are pleased to be able to implement these changes because we feel all students will benefit,” D-20 Superintendent Mark Hatchell said. “Many in our community have long been concerned about how early our high schools start.”
Start times has been a topic of discussion for more than a decade, said D-20 Spokeswoman Nanette Anderson, often during talks about the district calendar and transportation. Parents have spoken to the school board about the early start for high school students.
The changes grew out of work by the district’s Transportation Task Force and will increase efficiency in the Transportation Department as well as improve safety, she said.
The new start times means more light when students are going to or from school, especially for high school drivers, walkers and bus riders.
With the new schedule, elementary schools will start no later than 8:45 a.m. (some as early as 8:15 a.m.), and middle schools start times will vary by school, between 7:45 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
Elementary school students who ride the bus will be dropped off before 4:30 p.m.
Gary Coy, parent of two young children in the district, spoke to the board about the start times. He was concerned about kids not getting enough sleep and waiting at bus stops in the dark and cold, especially in the winter.
He's delighted with the changes in start times, and praised the district and school board for making the move.
"It was a hard problem to solve," he said. "Forty minutes or so makes a huge difference."
Anderson said the new times are expected to improve students’ attendance and academic focus.
Parents aren’t the only ones who will note the different start times.
Those living near schools will likely notice a shift in traffic patterns.
“Start times affect everyone,” Anderson said.
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