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Starting School Later - I want what they're having

What are they serving up in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, that has to do with Anne Arundel County?

More and more school boards are discussing it and some are actually doing it.  Recently, Lafayette Parish in Louisiana voted to start all of their public schools later to "re-format bell schedules to reflect research-based later starting time for older students".

Elementary schools move from a start time of 7:55 to 8:10

Middle schools: from 8:35 to 8:50

High Schools:  From 7:15 to 7:30

Fairfax County Public Schools voted, on April 12th, on a resolution to: "START HIGH SCHOOLS AFTER 8 A.M. AND TO DIRECT THE SUPERINTENDENT TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT ON SCHOOL DIVISIONS WITH LATER STARTING HIGH SCHOOLS." The vote passed but school board member Sandy Evans is careful to point out that this is NOT a change to any school schedules -- just a positive "path of exploration."

Phyllis Payne, who also spoke at the meeting, says, "Hopefully, Fairfax County will become a shining example to other large suburban school districts – providing guidance about how to make student health, wellness, and learning a top priority."

Then I was really pleased to read in The Washington Post that their editorial board supports the idea of "sensible reform as to when high school students begin classes". In discussing the resolution approved in Fairfax County, the editorial says:

"The reason the idea won't go away is that it makes too much sense...Students who are sleep-deprived achieve less and are more likely to suffer from depression or obesity or to have issues with drugs and alcohol.  Because adolescents have biorhythms set on a cycle different than those of adults or younger children, the problem is not so easily solved as by telling teenagers to go to bed earlier.  Figuring out a way for older students to be in class when they are most alert is to everyone's benefit."

If The Washington Post is endorsing the science and the benefits behind the idea of starting school later in Fairfax County, why not in Anne Arundel County or Montgomery County?  Take a look at the editorial here: "Don't hit the snooze again: Fairfax revisits the question of when to start high school classes"

Let's start asking our school board why, if a later school start time makes sense for Arlington County, Loudoun County, and perhaps Fairfax County, are Maryland schools still hanging on to some of the earliest school start times in the country?  Is there a scientific, health, educational reason?  Is it in the best interest of school students? 

If not -- I want what they're having.

www.StartSchoolLater.net

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Laura Graham Booth May 08, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Me, too! The argument given is always that "it will cost more." Yes, it would if you want to start every school in the county at the same time. But why can't we push all the school start times back a half an hour? Gas for the same bus will cost the same at 7am as it does at 6:30am. Yes, parents will have to adjust. But let's face it: Adjustment is the name of the parenting game. We adjust our schedules to accomodate day care, preschool, elementary school, junior high. We adjust for after-school activities, early dismissals, and school breaks. Compared to all that, a half-hour schedule shift is small potatoes. With all the research in favor of later start times, we can't afford NOT to try!
Heather Macintosh May 09, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I apologize for the lack of paragraphs in the blog post. If you look hard, you can see where they were meant to be! Still working on formatting.
Beth Santin May 10, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Well said! I posted a recommend on Facebook, thanks for blogging this.

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