At the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) meeting this past month, part of our discussion was about best practice for school starting times. This conversation started with some of my elementary PLC visits where teachers feel that our district is missing key instructional time with our elementary students by starting at 8:40 am. These PLCs would like to start the classroom activities between 7:50-8:00.
There is research that supports that teenagers should start school later in the morning. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to give students the opportunity to get the amount of sleep they need. The reasons are rooted in biology. As children approach and go through puberty, their brains begin producing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin on a delayed schedule, making it difficult for them to feel tired before 11 p.m. It is recommended that teenagers get between 8-10 hours of sleep.
During the SIAC meeting, parents of the committee mentioned other advantages of flipping the elementary and secondary starting times. Elementary parents that begin work at 8:00 will have easier drop-off and supervision issues of their children in the morning. Also, families where an older sibling is a high school student, the older child can drop off elementary age brothers and sisters since the high school schedule would start later than the elementary.
I have asked SIAC members to discuss this with their neighbors and co-workers and report back at our December 4 meeting. The members of the SIAC committee are Arica Arensdorf, Jorge Parra, Brian Kenney, Candace Seitz, Dan Boyd, Dana Albaghdadi, Deb Duhr, Diane Honeywell, Janet Sager, Jason Wheat, Jeff Atkinson, Jocelyn Meyer, Josh Bolen, JR Kuch, Jurgen Duhr, Keegan Cassidy, Kristi Cooley, Laurie Reafsnider, Megan Comstock, Michele Terrock, Phillip Swanson, Rae Feddersen, Reginald Hall, Rhett Weis, Ryan Kent, Shawna Kent, Steven Lewis, Theresa Schultz, Wilson Amely, Wes Golden, and Gary DeLacy. Please feel free to provide your input to any of these members.
Ultimately as we have these discussions, we have a fundamental question to ask. What time schedule best supports kids?