Academy District 20 is having a board meeting to discuss the district’s decision to change start and end times for students. D20’s high school students will likely see a later start time.
A later start time for older students is something that health experts have been pushing for years. It's already in place at a handful of Denver area schools and many of the districts here are looking into it right now.
About two years ago, District 20 formed a committee with representation from the students, faculty, staff, and parents. They revied research, studied bus schedules after school curricular and considered the impact a new schedule would have on families.
The committee looked at the school’s schedules for elementary, middle, and high school students and the research backs a later start for middle and high school students.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine have called insufficient sleep in teens a public health issue and recommend middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. because it supports overall teen health, alertness and safety.
They also show both attendance and graduation rates "significantly improved" in schools that delayed their start times.
Earlier school start times do not have the same negative impacts on elementary school students as they do on high school students.
In fact, the CDC says teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, but biologically they are wired to stay up later, and currently, almost 60% of middle schoolers and more than 70% of high schoolers don't get enough sleep on school nights which will affect more than just their moods.
All of this was taken into account before District 20's decision. Another benefit that will come with the change has to do with transportation. There will be fewer bus routes at one time, which allows for more field trips and extracurricular activities.
Also, fewer drivers will be required at once, which helps to mitigate route cancellations and the chronic driver shortage we've been seeing.
Schools across our state have already made this change and more in our area are working to do so. But they also recognize the difficulty of change and are working to address any issues that may arise in the future.
You can join in on tonight’s board meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will be held at the Education and Admin Center on Chapel Hills Drive for the exact details of the change and to give voice to your concerns, questions, or support. There will be time for public comment.
But this is not something that will be voted on. It is an administration decision rather than a board decision.
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