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High School Start Times

Citizens Count Editor

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement in 2014 recommending middle/high schools delay start times until 8:30am or later. 

"The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP.  “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

The AAP cites a National Sleep Foundation poll where 59-percent of 6th through 8th graders and 87-percent of high school students in the U.S. reported getting less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights. 

Several cities and towns have considered later starts but so far the Windham, Portsmouth, and Oyster River school districts are the only ones to make a change based on sleep concerns. 

However, later start times have downsides.  A later school start may cut into the afternoon responsibilities of students, such as part-time jobs or babysitting younger siblings.  Start times also impact after school extra-curricular activities, such as sports. 

Anthony Pastelis, a member of the Rochester School Board, has also argued that early high school start times better train students for adult life.


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Schools are supposed to prepare young people for the working world. Most jobs begin around 700am. They, as an employee, will not be mollycoddled, they will not be able to offer excuses as to why they are late because, after all, in school starting time was always much later. The questions in this piece answer the question without our import, parents, jobs, older kids babysitting the younger because the parents are off to work, etc. no this would work against them. Starting the school day early is simply preparing them for their employment, it is just as important as their other lessons.


If research indicates high school students don't learn well in the morning, then we shouldn't be trying to teach them then. Personally, I remember falling asleep quite often in my morning high school and college classes, and the "training" I received getting up before dawn to get to class hasn't helped to make mornings any easier now that I'm working. Let's be honest: school sports are the main after school activity in conflict with this plan. Sports should never be given priority over academics, and should be scaled back quite a bit to accommodate a good sleep and studying schedule. The emphasis we put on sports in schools is ridiculous; it's as if we're running a professional athletics training program, with a little math and reading thrown in as extracurricular activities.


Start later. Most jobs start at 8:30 or 9. Keep them later too. Its hard for working parents when the kids get home at 2:30 and they work till 5.

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