School Start Time Study

Does your teenager stay up late and then have a tough time getting out of bed for school in the mornings?

If so, this could be part of the reason: Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence, meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11 p.m., according to the National Sleep Foundation. And teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep each night to function their best, according to the foundation.

Because of this, many school districts across the country, including Fayetteville-Manlius, are investigating changing their school start times so that high school students start classes later.

At F-M, the high school starts at 7:45 a.m. The two middle schools each start at 8 a.m. and the three elementary schools begin at 8:45 a.m. in part because the F-M bus fleet is dispatched in three distinct intervals (high school, middle school and elementary runs).

In 2016, the American Medical Association issued a policy statement that middle and high school start times begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also weighed in on the topic, stating, “Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance.”

In 2016, the F-M High School Site-Based Team, which is made up of parents, teachers, administrators and students, brought the issue to the F-M Board of Education, asking for a districtwide study related to start times. With the voter-approved facilities project underway, the board is now ready to move forward with studying modified start times across the district. In fact, the construction phasing may impact school schedules and how the buses are dispatched.

“The impact of our current capital project and its upcoming construction on our daily routines suggest that this may be the perfect time to consider our options and to research this important topic,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said.

On Jan. 28, 2019, the board approved the district working with Children’s National Health System, which is based in Washington D.C. and specializes in a range of pediatric services and research, including sleep as it relates to school start times.

“We have seen what the research says, but we want to know how changing our start times would affect our students, staff, families and community,” Dr. Tice said. “There are many things to consider about changing school start times, such as impacts upon transportation, after-school activities, sports programs and the work schedules of our students and their parents and guardians and our staff.”

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