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School Start Times

Study of School Start Times

Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) Board passed a resolution to study changing school start times on October 7, 2014. A School Start Time Committee has been developed to provide information and research possibilities.

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

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

 

Why is the school system considering the change?
Theory and research indicate that starting school later will be beneficial for the academic achievement and health of teenagers, while the same theory suggests that elementary students should not be adversely affected by an earlier start time.

What does the research say?
Findings from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and National 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 Start Time Committee plans to make a recommendation to the Superintendent by January 20, 2015. The Superintendent will then take her recommendation to 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
 Elementary
 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 additioanl 15 minutes where bus drivers are on the road. Bus drivers are hourly employees and any additional drive time would have to be paid.

Considerations:

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

After School Activities/Sports
Would secondary students have time to participate in jobs, sports and other after school activities? Research has shown that a delay in start times may reduce the amount of time available for after school practices. Despite concerns, most districts that have changed have experienced few problems.

Before and After School Care
Would the change result in issues with before and after school child care? The impact would be family specific. Some families might need less childcare while others could need additional childcare. Secondary students would be released after elementary so they would not be home to provide child care in the afternoon but would instead be available to provide morning childcare.

Transportation
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 which all schools begin at the same time since this would require the purchase of another fleet of buses. Flipping start times is the most commonly used option for divisions with tiered bus systems.