STAC November Update

November 2016 Update

Hello Parents, Staff and Community Stakeholders,

The School Start Times Advisory Committee (STAC) has been hard at work over the last several months on your behalf and that of our children’s. We would like to provide a brief update on where we are in the process and lay out our current thinking on next steps. Please recall our guiding principle:

To engage all stakeholders in a community-wide conversation to determine what is best for our children and uniquely best for our community.

Our original timeline called for a recommendation at some point this winter. Our current thinking is that we will likely take until the spring to reach that point. If a significant change in start time is approved, it would not go into effect until September 2018. This timing will allow families and schools to plan for any needed changes to their schedules. Whatever we decide, whether it be no change at all or a big change, we will take our time and do this right. Above all, we want to ensure you have the opportunity to participate in addressing this issue, so please do so!

In September we heard from adolescent sleep expert Dr. Judith Owens, Director of Pediatric Sleep at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Owens shared the science behind how sleep changes as our children grow up and what she has learned from many years researching this topic and working with schools across the country to address this issue. A very robust Q&A session followed, with lots of support, healthy skepticism, and thoughtful questions regarding where to go from here. Also, we held a public forum to discuss the results from last spring’s survey on sleep, activities, homework and other factors affecting our children’s schedules. Recordings of these sessions are available online at

The STAC Options Development team has been charged with pulling together various concrete options to potentially move Masco’s start time later. Each option is going through a vetting process to identify impacts on each stakeholder: students, families, communities, and faculty, and to minimize such impacts wherever possible. This team has decided that to rigorously analyze those impacts we need to secure the services of a transportation consultant at a nominal cost. Given the size of our transportation budget, the complexity and breadth of our bus routes, we’re confident that this analysis is the right move. Below are the main factors being taken into consideration in evaluating our options:

  • Healthy schedule for Masconomet and elementary students
  • Support academics
  • Cost to community and families
  • Teachers’ contracts
  • Buses
  • Athletics
  • Masco’s Extra Help
  • Before and after school child care
  • Before and after school programs
  • Impact on student and staff families
  • Impact on schedules

In November we are conducting a Faculty Listening Tour, engaging faculty at Masco and all of the Tri-Town Union elementary schools. These meetings are scheduled for November 7 and 14, during professional development and staff meeting time so we expect attendance to be high. We know all of our faculty have our kids’ best interests at heart, and they are the ones interacting with our kids on a daily basis, so having them involved will undoubtedly lead to a better solution for everyone. Their input will help us refine and develop the options.

As our options and their stakeholder impact are more rigorously developed, we will then conduct community forums to get feedback from everyone on how to achieve what is best for our children and our community. I think that I can speak for everyone involved that we are excited for this community-wide engagement.

Remembering that school start time is just one of the factors that impact the quantity and quality of sleep our kids get, we know that changing start time is not a magic pill that will singlehandedly fix this issue. Only schools can create a schedule that gives teens the opportunity to get a good night’s sleep (start time, homework load). Only families can make sure that teens take advantage of that opportunity by using good sleep habits and making good choices (extracurricular activities, good sleep routines, electronics use).

Our process is reiterated below:

  • Done: Gather research
  • Done: Conduct Survey #1 to gather data from parents, staff, and students
  • Done: Understand and report on Survey #1 Results
  • In process: Develop options and study impact on budget and community
  • In process: Conduct Faculty Options Listening Tour
  • January/February: Publish proposed options and hold public forum
  • March/April: Conduct survey #2 to get feedback on options and report on survey results
  • Spring 2017: Make recommendations to the Masconomet, Boxford, Middleton, and Topsfield school committees, who then will decide on the next step.

We know that no one solution will please everyone, so our goal is to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of students. Help us make that happen. Thanks.


Bill Hodges, Advisory Committee Chair
Masconomet Regional School Committee
Topsfield Representative

Sleep deprivation, depression, and suicide

After several suicides in Palo Alto California, a local psychiatrist shared tips for decreasing the risk of suicide and depression in children. His #1 item? Sleep. Over 70 studies have now shown a link between sleep deprivation, depression, anxiety, and suicide. At Masconomet, the average teen is getting 7 hours of sleep on a school night – a loss of 10 hours a week of sleep. Dr. Strassberg writes:

Depression is a major factor in most suicides. Depression causes significant disruptions in sleep patterns. However, an emerging body of literature shows that sleep disruptions seem to precede and even precipitate depressive episodes.

Our children need to be sleeping more than us, not less than us. They need to be sleeping regular hours. Sufficient sleep must take priority over homework, athletics, social life, work, etc. I cannot overemphasize the importance of proper sleep hygiene. Poor sleep is just one of a great many contributing factors to depression, but it is such an easily controllable and preventable factor. Make your teens sleep.

Read more at Guest opinion: Keep Calm and Parent On

Oxford University: Teens are fully awake and engaged at 10am

The neuroscientists at the University of Oxford are diving into the research on adolescent sleep. This video gives a brief introduction to the topic. The scientists write:
Is sleep different for teenagers? The reason we are so interested in sleep during adolescence is because our circadian rhythms change during this period. From the age of 10 until around 21 our circadian rhythms delay. This means that as we go through adolescence and into early adulthood we are naturally more inclined to go to bed later and also to get up later. This is a biological process, and will happen to teenagers regardless of their environment.
Asking an adolescent to get up at 07:00 to start school at 09:00 is akin to asking a 55-year-old to get up at 05:00: this leads adolescence to accumulate a significant amount of sleep deprivation. The circadian drive isn’t optimised for wakefulness and engagement until around 10:00. This means that adolescents are typically starting school at a time when they are feeling the effects of sleep deprivation and when their natural rhythms are not optimised for alertness, and therefore learning. There have been a whole host of studies, mostly from the US showing that a delay in the school start time improves sleep, mood, well-being, alertness and academic outcomes with one study suggesting that a delay in the school start time is more effective than improving the quality of the teaching.

Jim Braude: Changing start time is a “no brainer”

Jim Braude tackles change of start time on show:

“Given the research, isn’t this a no brainer for every community? I mean I understand the logical issues, but isn’t this a no brainer?”

The Superintendent of Melrose says: “We know the research. It’s well documented. It’s well vetted. And [the superintendents of the Middlesex Athletic League] all agreed immediately that this should be something we should do as a group.” Melrose has already made the change, and the 10 other towns in the league will be following suit.

Read more at Neighboring Towns Join Forces For Later High School And Middle School Start Time

Survey says: Homework is an issue for our teens

The Start Times Advisory Committee surveyed parents, students, and staff about sleep in June. On October 4, the committee presented the results of the survey at a community forum. This slide shows responses to the question: How much time does your child spend on homework on a typical day?  for the parent survey and a similar question on the student survey.

Masconomet STAC survey: how much time does your child spend on homework on a typical day

The committee asked this question because homework has a big effect on student schedules. The yellow bands in this chart indicate the recommended amount of homework from the National Education Association: 10 minutes per grade per night. Up through grades 5-6, the homework load follows the NEA guidelines fairly closely. Those guidelines have been the basis for homework policies at the Tri-Town elementary schools.

However, at Masconomet there is more homework reported than the guidelines recommend. Staff, Parents, and Students agree that Masconomet students have more than 2 hours of homework, which is the recommended maximum for a student in Grade 12. Those in Grade 9 should have 90 minutes of homework.

Notice also the differences reported by each group: the staff report considerably less homework than parents and students do. In middle school, parents report about 40 minutes more than staff. At high school, the students report nearly an hour more homework than the staff, and 24 minutes more than their parents.

One problem with this measure of homework is that it relies on the amount of time spent on homework. But this can vary considerably from student to student. Some do homework very efficiently and some do not. One important point that Dr. Owens made to the community during her presentation is that a child who has not had enough sleep will take longer to do homework and will make more mistakes on that homework.

How does everyone feel about the amount of homework? The survey also asked: How do you feel about your child’s homework?

Looking at the responses, there is a significant difference in perception about homework. Two thirds of staff of students at Masconomet report that that students have just about the right amount of homework (or too little, in fact) and parents largely agree with them. However, students tell a different story. In middle school, 44% of students say that they have too much homework and an additional 19% say that they have so much homework that they cannot give it the attention that it needs.

In high school these numbers get worse: 43% say too much homework and an additional 38% say that they have so much homework that they cannot give it the attention that it needs: a total of 81% of students feel overwhelmed with homework.

Masconomet STAC survey: how do you feel about your child's homework?

During the presentation (at about 35m) of the survey results, Dr. William Hodges, chair of STAC said: “The problem of chronic sleep deficit that adolescents are facing certainly has … part of the issue is when school starts and when that forces them to wake up in the morning, but if we’re really going to look at this appropriately and … be able to make whatever recommendation we come up with… it’s got to be somewhat comprehensive. I’m not going to commit to solve all those problems in one fell swoop. Our current thinking is that we need to take a comprehensive look at homework. I don’t think that we’re going to wait until we do that before we make a recommended change on this. We might. It’s possible.  Let’s take our best shot at this, but knowing how big an issue homework is and the role that it should play in the learning process – maybe there’s some changes we need to make.”

Dr. Lyons (superintendent) added: “This isn’t a Masco phenomenon. This is a national phenomenon. In Massachusetts it’s probably a bit higher because of the accountability system that has driven the state to #1 status in the country – #1 in every category you could measure in student achievement. The accountability movement has been very successful in that relatively narrow measurement of how students are achieving in the state’s frameworks. I think that accountability has really transformed teacher cultures since 1997, 1998. It’s changed the relationship between teachers and students because there’s always concern about scores and numbers. […] I think we need to change some of the structures and start that conversation. It’s very complicated. That’s not an excuse. I think it’s a reason why it’s important to do it in a very thoughtful way involving faculty discussion. Not all homework is the same. Not every subject is the same. Not all parents are the same in terms of what they expect their students to get for homework and not all students are the same.  No matter what position you took […] you would have parental debate on what’s appropriate. […] I don’t think there’s a real solid science on that. But it’s got to be part of the community dialog. I look at this from a different point of view: the anxiety levels, the social/emotional health levels of our kids is being impacted, I’d say by start time, by the amount of time they spend on homework, the amount of time they on sports and clubs, the amount of time they’re doing screen time, and goodness knows what else – we know they’re very stressed out.”



STAC Sleep Survey Results

On Tuesday, October 4, the Start Times Advisory Committee presented the results of the sleep survey at a community forum. If you did not have a chance to attend, you can view it here:

The survey clearly shows that our Masconomet students are experiencing a serious sleep deficit. This information, coupled with Dr. Judith Owens’ presentation the week before makes it clear that our children are experiencing a serious health crisis.

William Hodges, chair of the STAC committee had this to say at the presentation:

The data is pretty much on one side that when a school has made this change, lots of good things happen and not a lot of bad things. There’s really nothing else to say. Those that know me and know my involvment on this topic… I was a skeptic. I think that’s fair to say. Looking at the research I haven’t heard of negatives in making this happen. Again, doesn’t make – we don’t just instantly do something here because we have to figure out what’s really right for us.

A member of the audience added:

I also went to [Dr. Owen’s presentation last week] somewhat a skeptic and the actual case examples that they had were just staggering. There was actually one school that they moved their start time a half an hour later and it was so beneficial that they bumped it another half an hour later the following year.

Hodges: “I’ve Googled: show me where this doesn’t work. Show me the bad stuff. I want to know about it now, at a minimum so that it informs our discussion. And … I’m not coming up with anything”.

Survey says: Students are falling asleep in class

The Start Times Advisory Committee surveyed parents, students, and staff about sleep in June. On October 4, the committee presented the results of the survey at a community forum. This slide shows responses to the question: How often do you notice a student falling asleep in class? for the student survey and they asked Do you ever fall asleep in school?

Any time a child is sleeping in class they are not learning. The survey shows that 21% (1 in 5) high school students report falling asleep in class at least once a week. And no wonder: the same survey shows these students report that they’re getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night, well below that their bodies need.


Masconomet STAC survey: do you ever fall asleep at school?

Dr. Judith Owens explained the reason for this problem very clearly in her presentation to the community. The Circadian Nadir occurs in during the night when our sleep drive is still keeping us asleep and our wake drive is not yet helping us to be alert and awake. For adults, this happens at about 4am. For adolescents, it’s 6am – exactly the time when they need to wake up, go to school, and be ready to learn.

Dr. Owens' presentation on teen sleep: circadian sleep cycle

Survey says: 41% use caffeine, a gateway drug, to stay alert

The Start Times Advisory Committee surveyed parents, students, and staff about sleep in June. On October 4, the committee presented the results of the survey at a community forum. This slide shows responses to the question: do you drink caffeinated beverages to help you stay awake and alert? for the student survey. This question was used to understand the use of caffeine as a drug, not looking for incidental consumption.

STAC survey: do you drink caffeinated beverages to help you stay awake and alert?

The response show that 41% of high school students and 9% of middle school students use caffeine every day as a drug to help them stay alert.

During her presentation to the community (at minute 31), Dr. Judith Owens said that researchers have found a connection between caffeine use and drug use, saying:

“There’s data to suggest that early use of caffeine is associated with an increased risk for using illicit drugs and alcohol later on, and the more caffeine these young kids consume, the more likely they are to use these other substances. There’s also a relationship between caffeine and cigarette smoking because caffeine increases the reinforcement effects of nicotine and caffeine is metabolized more quickly by individuals who are smoking cigarettes. This lead to a concern that caffeine may function as a gateway drug and predict the risk of later using things like drugs and alcohol.”

Dr. Owens' presentation on teen sleep: caffeine use

Sleep survey: What time does your child go to sleep and wake up?

The Start Times Advisory Committee surveyed parents, students, and staff about sleep in June. On October 4, the committee presented the results of the survey at a community forum. This slide shows responses to the question: what time does your child go to sleep and wake up on a school morning and on a “natural” morning? for the parent survey and they asked the students a similar question.

Let’s start with responses for elementary-aged children, from both parents and students:

School start time sleep survey: what time does your child go to bed and wake up?


The green bars are school nights and the blue bars are “natural” nights – non school nights. Looking at the green bars  from PreK to grade 6, you can see that as the children get older their sleep times get later, from a 8:37pm bedtime on a school night for a PreK-2 student to a 9:54pm bedtime on a school night for students in Grades 5-6 (note that the responses for 5-6 are from students, whereas the responses for 3-6 are from parents). The wake up times also drift later, with the blue bars moving from 7:15am to 8:10am as the children age.

The red line is at 6:45am, which marks the approximate time that the children need to get up in order to get ready for school. The green bars all end at this line. However, notice that the width of the green bars and the blue bars is about the same throughout – in other words, the duration of sleep is about the same, whether it’s a school night or a natural night of sleep. Now let’s look at the same responses for middle and high school students:

School start time sleep survey: what time does your child go to bed and wake up?

The vertical yellow bars show the normal range of natural sleep and wake times for adolescents. For each grade group, we have responses from parents and students.

On natural nights (blue bars), you can see that as the children get older their bedtimes shift later, from 10:38pm to 11:22pm (according to parents) or from 10:59pm to 11:38pm (according to students).

On school nights, the children fall asleep a little earlier. Parents report 9:59pm for middle school students and 10:50pm for high school students. The students report 10:27pm in middle school and 11:22pm in high school.

The red line marks 6:00am, which is where the students need to wake to make the Masconomet start time of 7:35am. Notice that this time, the sleep duration on school nights is much shorter than the sleep duration on natural nights, especially for the oldest kids.

This is the crux of the matter: adolescents have a later natural bedtime. You can see the progression. This is biologically normal for them, and scientists know this because they can measure natural melatonin production by taking saliva samples from their patients. Adolescents produce melatonin 1-2 hours later than adults – this is true across cultures, time zones, regions of the world – it’s even true across most mammals. Teens go to bed later, but the early start time forces them to wake up long before they’ve had enough sleep.

Read more at:

Sleep survey: How many hours of sleep does your child actually get on a school night?

The Start Times Advisory Committee surveyed parents, students, and staff about sleep in June. On October 4, the committee presented the results of the survey at a community forum. This slide shows responses to the question: how much sleep does your child actually get on a school night? for the parent survey and how much sleep do you actually get on a school night? on the student survey.

School start time sleep survey: how much sleep does your child actually get on a school night

The youngest children: PreK-2 are getting on average 9h and 54m of sleep, right in the yellow range that shows the amount of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, but as the children get older the amount of sleep they are getting begins to drop off.

In grades 3-6, children are getting 9h and 6m of sleep, even though doctors recommend 9-11 of sleep total. In 7th and 8th grade, parents say that their children are getting 8h of sleep, when doctors recommend 8-10 (the average adolescent needs a little over 9 hours of sleep), and in grades 9-12, parents report that their children are only getting 7h and 18m of sleep.

The student survey (in green) shows even lower numbers. This survey only gathered information from children in grades 5 and up, but you can see that in grades 5-6 the children report 8h and 42m of sleep – less than the recommended minimum. In middle school, the children are reporting 7h and 30m per night and in high school, the children report that they are getting 6h and 30m of sleep on a school night. That’s a loss of over 2 hours of sleep per night that they need to be healthy. It’s also about 3/4 of an hour less sleep than their parents report. In the course of a single school week, that’s the equivalent of missing out on a whole night of sleep – 10 hours.

What’s remarkable is that parents and students both know that this is not enough sleep. The same survey asked parents and students to say how much sleep they should be getting each night, and both groups reported numbers within the ranges recommended by doctors, though both parents and students slightly underestimated the sleep that a typical teen needs by about 30 minutes.

School start time sleep survey: how much sleep does your child SHOULD get on a school night

Read more at:

Sleep Survey: How do you feel about the amount of sleep that your child gets?

The Start Times Advisory Committee surveyed parents, students, and staff about sleep in June. On October 4, the committee presented the results of the survey at a community forum. This slide shows responses to the question: how do you feel about the amount of sleep that your child gets? for the parent survey and how do you feel about the amount of sleep that you get? on the student survey and on the staff survey: how do you feel about the amount of sleep that your students get?

School start time sleep survey: how do you feel about the amount of sleep that your child gets?

The blue is used to show too much or far too much sleep: almost no one is reporting that students get too much sleep. What we would like to see on this chart is all green – that everyone – staff, parents, and students – agree that the kids are getting about the right amount of sleep. But that’s not what’s here.

The yellow shows “too little sleep” and the orange “far too little sleep”. A little over half of the PreK-6 staff feel that their students are getting too little (or much too little) sleep. At Masconomet, only 12% of staff believe that their students are getting enough sleep.

Parents are more optimistic, with 70% of parents believing that their PreK-2 children get enough sleep. That number slowly declines, though, until high school, when only 35% of parents believe that their children are getting enough sleep.

Looking at the students, about half of the students in Grades 5-6 report getting too little (or much too little) sleep. When the children get to the Masconomet schedule, though, there is a dramatic change: 34% of Students in Grades 7-8 say that they get much too little sleep and an additional 48% say too little sleep – a total of 88% of students saying that they’re not sleeping enough. In Grades 9-12,  50% that they get much too little sleep and a additional 40% say too little sleep – a total of 90%.

Read more at:

Letter on School Start Times to BOE, Superintendent: “The Issue is Not Going Away”

Greenwich, CT, is wrestling with the start time issue in their schools. A local parent sent in a letter to the editor, saying “This issue is not going away” and pointing out that a majority of families support the change.

We must do what is best for the health, well being, and safety of the majority of our students. And the icing on the cake is that with a later start time, our adolescents are also likely to perform better and more safely in their extra-curricular activities.

The conversation about school start times in Greenwich was open to all members of the community for more than a year, with various opportunities and platforms for participating, providing input and feedback. We hope you vote for what is medically right for our students and which also represents a consistent majority view of the constituents who have participated in this conversation and who are still signing the petition for change – now at 1,727 signatories.

Read more at Letter on School Start Times to BOE, Superintendent: “The Issue is Not Going Away”

Later school start times yield teachable moments

Towns in Maine made the change this year to a later start time and have seen incredibly positive results…

“Old Orchard Beach, which had already shifted its start times for the middle and high schools from 7:30 to 8 a.m. last year, moved it again, to 8:30 a.m., this fall for middle and high school students.

Old Orchard Beach Superintendent John Suttie said it went so well last year, it was easy to adjust the start time again this year.

“Last year we saw a huge difference, just walking through the halls,” said Suttie, who also serves as principal of the high school. “They are so much more alert and ready to learn.”

Suttie said he was surprised that when he spoke to students’ families, they weren’t focused on the science.

“It was about whether it was an inconvenience. If it was, they were against it,” he said. “That’s where we, as educators, have really got to make a decision.” But once they reviewed the studies, it wasn’t a hard decision.

“It was easy for us to make a difficult decision,” he said. “I thought it was a very courageous act.”

Read more at Later school start times yield teachable moments

DWD: Driving While Drowsy

New research suggests later school start times could be safer for teen drivers when they’re driving in the afternoon.  Michelle Donati, communications manager for AAA Arizona says “Teens are more likely to be at-risk for drowsy driving as their bodies need more sleep than adults.”  Drowsy driving is especially a problem for young drivers because science shows that teens need more sleep than adults. Many high schools, however, start as early as 7 a.m. While the shift in start times only served to push morning crashes back an hour, the data showed that the number of early afternoon crashes fell significantly. Researchers suggested that later dismissal times reduced the amount of time teens were on the road in the afternoon.

Read more at DWD: Driving While Drowsy

Waking up about sleep: A public health need, overlooked

Despite the facts, sleep is still viewed as a luxury or a sign of laziness rather than being akin to potable water and nutrition— the basic public health necessity that it truly is.    While there has been some progress, there is still a long way to go to elevate the importance of sleep in both policy and practice. In the 1990’s, smoking bans seemed novel, but now smoke free public spaces are normal.  That process required a slow but steady effort to change the public’s attitude. Likewise, attitudes about sleep must be transformed through education and public policies that encourage healthy sleep.

But to make real headway in rationalizing our nation’s attitude toward sleep, we need to start with our kids.  Let’s not continue to subject them to the insidiously destructive structure of ridiculously early school start times.    It is time to think creatively about providing the necessary hours of sleep to our kids, to provide them with immediate benefits and to engender healthy sleep habits for adulthood.

Read more at Waking up about sleep: A public health need, overlooked

Waking up to a major but necessary decision: an open letter to all local school board members

From A2Zzzz September 2016, Volume 25 Number

By Brendan Duffy, RST, RPSGT
Dear School Board Members:

Another summer winds down and we prepare for another school year lled with many discussions and many important and possibly life altering decisions to be made.

First of all, thank you for your service in your community school district. Your time and talent is greatly appreciated by the many parents and community members that you serve. You are entrusted each year to do your very best for the students and schools that you serve.

I have something important to discuss with you with regard to
an important decision that must be made. For some students, the decision you make can literally be life saving. eir health and well-being depend on you taking a look at one critical factor that is often overlooked. Or, it is discussed brie y, but the logistics involved in making a change are waved away as being “too cumbersome” or “too much trouble” for a school board member to get involved with. So the topic becomes the elephant in the room that board members avoid. But how much trouble is too much trouble when we are talking about preventing teen car crashes, reducing disciplinary incidents and improving student grades?

If I had a presentation that would bring about all of the positive results noted above, as in less crashes, less disciplinary incidents, great student performance, more focus, and better student attitudes many of you would be happy to have me present this valuable information to your school community. Many would ask me to explain my premise so you could reduce accidents, improve student focus, show better student performance on the athletic eld and reduce athletic injuries.

I am going to give you the answer and it is up to you to implement this as it is you that holds the key. e answer is later school start times. e American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that middle and high schools delay the start of school until at least 8:30 a.m.

How does your school t with that start time?

e lead author of the policy statement, Judith Owens MD, FAAP, said “Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common — and easily xable — public health issues in the U.S. today.”

Students not getting enough sleep have an increased risk for being overweight or for su ering from depression. And those that get more sleep are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, have better grades and achieve higher standardized test scores.

Let’s just look at a few examples.

In a study in 2014 from Old Dominion University, auto crashes were compared over two years for two counties and a correlation was made between crashes involving teen drivers and early school start times. e two central Virginia counties in the study began classes about an hour and a half apart. Chester eld County, which started high school classes at 7:20 a.m., had a signi cantly higher rate of crashes among teens than their neighboring county, Henrico, which started classes at 8:45 a.m. is di erence between the counties was only applicable to teen drivers, not adults, which suggests the early start time could be a preventable contributor. It is fairly obvious that young drivers, with little driving experience, and even less knowledge of the dangers

of microsleep or driving sleep deprived, are put in precarious situations that they are ill prepared to handle. e other take away from the study was that there were signi cantly more instances where the teen driver “ran o the road to the right — a common nding in crashes where inadequate sleep is suspected.”

In 2013, the Rock Bridge High School Board in Columbia Mo., after much debate, voted to change the start time from 7:20 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. e result? It was reported that students seemed
to be more awake and more eager to learn. In addition, the out of school suspensions since 2012 have dropped by 1,000! And graduation rates went from 82.7 percent to over 90 percent.

Whether you look at the clock to improve the life, health, and well-being of your students, or perhaps you become the brave board member that rolled up their sleeves on behalf of making a simple, yet vital change a reality in your district, you truly can be a lifesaver.

Please don’t “kick the can” down the hall for the next board member to address. Be the one that “puts the brakes” on those cars full of young people that we all too often hear about that just “ran o the road.” Be the one that helps stem the mood disorders, the ever-growing obesity problem, and the disciplinary distractions and risky behaviors that are seen too often in sleep-deprived students. Be the one that refused to be told it could not be done because of bus schedules or sports schedules etc. Other board members nationwide have navigated this change and met those challenges head on. ey are enjoying the satisfaction of knowing they have truly changed the lives and the health of the students they represent. Make this school year the year you make the time to move the time!

Have a great school year! Sleep Well – Live Better!


1. Study: Teen Drivers and Early High School Start Times a Concerning Combination

2. Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation

3. A ‘Start School Later’ Success Story in Missouri: Higher Graduation Rates, Fewer Suspensions

Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference supports sleep and later start time

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has issued that following policy, stating that they firmly believe that there is no need for conflict between an early start time and athletic programs in their state. It’s time to ask the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to take note of this issue (learn how to contact the MIAA).

The CIAC believes that high school students should have the opportunity to learn in an optimum learning environment. While some students succeed academically within the existing and traditional school day, research shows that switching to later school start times does create a more optimal learning environment and improves student achievement for high school athletes. High School sports and extra-curricular activities have been perceived barriers to later start times. It is the position of the CIAC that sports are an extremely important component of a high school student’s education. However, interscholastic athletic activities can continue to be offered, with appropriate accommodations, within any reasonable school day structure. The greatest impact on sports will be within the late fall sports season when daylight savings time ends. However, early school dismissal for fall sports teams may well be a reasonable accommodation and compromise for the benefit of more sustained learning opportunities over the duration of a full year. The CIAC will continue to offer student-athletes the same opportunities for sports participation as it has historically done regardless of individual school district decisions on school starting times. Further, it will strive to schedule its state tournaments in ways which will not interfere with classroom instruction. While it is not always possible to achieve, it is a goal of the CIAC Board of Control to schedule its activities so as to not interfere with “student time on task.” The CIAC believes that member schools should continue to promote their activities in a manner which will support sound efforts to enhance optimum learning opportunities. To do less would be to elevate high school athletics to an importance greater than that which is its true purpose. The CIAC believes that decisions that will advance excellence in interscholastic athletics and academics can be achieved without the exclusion of one for the other.”

Read the statement in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Handbook (p221)