School Start Times Archive

Study of School Start Times

Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) Board passed a resolutionto study changing school start times on October 7, 2014. A School StartTime Committee has been developed to provide information and researchpossibilities.

MCPS sought staff, community and student input.  Surveys wereadministered in December and a public fourm was held on December 16. Updates on these outreach activities and updates from committeemeetings can be found by clicking the Committee Meetings button to theright.

UPDATE: The Potential Schools button now includes all schedules initially considered by the committee.


Why is the school system considering the change?
Theoryand research indicate that starting school later will be beneficial forthe academic achievement and health of teenagers, while the same theorysuggests that elementary students should not be adversely affected byan earlier start time.

What does the research say?
Findings fromorganizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centersfor Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), andNational Sleep Foundation (NSF) conclude that:

  • Adolescents need about nine hours of sleep per night for optimal academic performance, health, and brain development
  • Hormones that help regulate sleep make it difficult for most teens to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. or to be alert before 8:00 a.m.
  • Sleep plays an important role in learning and memory and sleep debt affects teens' ability to think, perform and react appropriately
  • Later high school start times result in adolescents getting more sleep on school nights
  • Benefits of later school start times include decreases in teen depression, car crashes, behavior problems, discipline referrals, absenteeism, tardiness, and dropout rates.
  • In contrast, there has been no conclusive research on the benefits or disadvantages to an earlier start time for elementary students.

When would a change take place?
If adopted projected implementation would be for the 2015-2016 school year.

When will a decision be made?
The School StartTime Committee plans to make a recommendation to the Superintendent byJanuary 20, 2015. The Superintendent will then take her recommendationto the School Board.

Which school systems have made a change?
A national list of schools that have made or will make the change including information about the results is available at http://www.startschoollater.net/success-stories.html

How would schedules change?
Many school systems have flipped schedules so that elementary students start first.
Schedules under consideration are:

 Current Schedule
 Plan A
 Plan B

 School  Hours
 Avg. School  Pickup Times
 School  Hours
 Avg. School  Pickup Times
 School  Hours
 Avg. School  Pickup Times
 9:00 – 3:30
 7:45 – 8:08
 7:40 – 2:10
 6:30 – 6:55
 7:50 – 2:20
 6:50 – 7:05
 Sec. - Middle
 7:40 – 2:25
 6:25 - 7:00
 8:40 – 3:25
 7:25 – 7:48
 8:55 – 3:40
 7:40 – 7:58
 Sec. - High
 7:50 – 2:35
 6:25 – 7:00
 8:40 – 3:25
 7:25 – 7:48
 8:55 – 3:40
 7:40 – 7:58

Is there a cost associated with the change?
Either Plan A or Plan B would cost the division $48,180 in additional bus driver wages. While there are no additional bus routes, there are additional driver wages that must be paid.  Elementary schools have a shorter day than secondary schools (6.5 hours versus 6.75 for secondary students). The difference in the school day combined with a switch in start time, would create an additional 15 minutes where bus drivers are on the road. Bus drivers are hourly employees and any additional drive time would have to be paid.

Note: As an alternate plan was eventually adopted by the school board, there is no additional cost associated with the change in school start times.


Elementary Schedules
To implement later secondaryschool start time would elementary students need to begin schoolearlier? Yes, the committee is looking at schedules that include earlierstart times of 7:40 or 7:50 for elementary students. This has beenimplemented in many divisions. Results reported were primarily positive.

After School Activities/Sports
Would secondarystudents have time to participate in jobs, sports and other after schoolactivities? Research has shown that a delay in start times may reducethe amount of time available for after school practices. Despiteconcerns, most districts that have changed have experienced fewproblems.

Before and After School Care
Would the changeresult in issues with before and after school child care? The impactwould be family specific. Some families might need less childcare whileothers could need additional childcare. Secondary students would bereleased after elementary so they would not be home to provide childcare in the afternoon but would instead be available to provide morningchildcare.

Montgomery County uses a 2-tier(elementary and secondary route) bus system for economic efficiency.Economically it appears impractical to move to a 1-tier system in whichall schools begin at the same time since this would require the purchaseof another fleet of buses. Flipping start times is the most commonlyused option for divisions with tiered bus systems.