When you are a parent — especially of a teenager — what time school should start is likely already a daily discussion in your home when you try to get your child up and out the door.
Now, local schools are taking on the topic as well.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed later start times for older students, especially in middle and high school. They recommended starting school no earlier than 8:30 a.m., citing the impact of not enough sleep on teens’ health and academic performance.
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But across the nation, most schools don’t follow those recommendations. In Indiana, the average school start time is 7:58 a.m., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
At least one school district is forming a group of parents, teachers and others to study the issue. And other schools said they could follow their lead in the future.
Center Grove school officials have been paying attention to recent research, and the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics, and wanted to take a closer look at the times their classes start, superintendent Rich Arkanoff said.
The research supports better student achievement with later start times for adolescent students, and it’s a topic school officials have heard about from the community. So now, school officials want to start a conversation about the issue, Arkanoff said.
The school district plans to form a committee of parents, teachers and administrators to look into the issue, he said. That group will research the need for a change, and how a change could work, and then report back to the school board, he said.
If school start times were altered, it wouldn’t happen for another one to two years, he said.
First, the school district has multiple factors to consider, including transportation, Arkanoff said.
Other local school districts said they are interested in looking into the issue as well but haven’t gotten a push from the community so far. Greenwood schools superintendent Kent DeKoninck said the school district has no plans to make any changes right now, but is not opposed to considering them in the future.
At Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools, superintendent Tim Edsell has paid attention to the research but has not seen or heard any concerns from his staff or parents, so he doesn’t see a need to make a change right now, he said.
And at Franklin schools, superintendent David Clendening expects school start times to be discussed this year.
He has talked about whether changes are needed with teachers in the past but not seen a push for anything to be different. But with the research and recommendations, he expects the issue will continue to come up. He wants research and data to drive any discussion or decision, he said.
He has watched other communities that have changed what time classes start, and the concerns and complaints that came up after, he said.
Franklin schools start times have not changed for many years, so teachers, parents and the community are used to the current schedule. A change in that would impact multiple areas, including busing and after-school activities, he said.
At Indian Creek schools, officials have tried to keep start times similar — around 8:10 a.m. — so parents can easily get their children off to school, even if they are at different buildings, he said.
“We try to keep consistent and coordinated between buildings, that’s helpful for staff and parents,” Edsell said.
Transportation, after school activities and parent schedules are all issues that would need to be addressed with a change in school start times, Clendening said.
“There is such a delicate balance of trying to get it all orchestrated right,” he said.
“If we do make changes, what does that look like?”
What time does your school start?
7:58 a.m.: average school start time in Indiana
8:30 a.m.: earliest start time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics