School start times: survey available now

School start times: survey available now
Posted on 11/26/2018
Student sleeping

Dear ASD Staff, Students & Families:

Last year, the district received a written request, signed by 200 parents, to investigate the possibility of moving to a later start time for middle and high school students. The request was based on research and a recommendation by theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics. The research concludes that later school start times benefit teenagers because of changing sleep patterns.

In the spring of 2018, the district conducted an initial survey of students, parents and staff. Overall, 60 percent of all stakeholders favored the idea, while 40 percent opposed. Much of the opposition revolved around the possibility of elementary schools going past 3:40 p.m.

In consultation with the school board, our administration has examined the issue and developed a proposed schedule that would be feasible for our transportation department and cost-neutral, while maintaining reasonable release times for elementary students.

No decisions have been made on this proposal. The board and administration have agreed that another round of feedback will add value to the decision-making process.

We are asking you to reflect on the schedule, read the Q&A that explains our thinking, and offer your perspective in the survey linked at the bottom of this email.  

The proposed schedule for 2019-2020 is:

Campus

Start Time

End Time

Fidalgo Elementary

9:00 AM

3:30 PM

Mount Erie Elementary

9:00 AM

3:30 PM

Island View Elementary (no change)

9:05 AM

3:35 PM

Whitney Early Childhood Center (no change)

9:10 AM

3:40 PM

Anacortes Middle School

8:00 AM

2:40 PM

Anacortes High School

8:05 AM

2:45 PM

Cap Sante High School

8:05 AM

2:35 PM

Q&A

How does this help?

Because of transportation, we could not make an 8:30 start time work, as recommended by the research. However, we believe that a 30 to 35-minute later start at middle and high school will have a net positive impact. Many students responded last year that even a 30-minute later start would benefit their well-being. Teachers also note a dramatic difference on late-start Wednesdays when students are able to get more sleep.

Does aligning elementary schedules help?

Yes. It particularly helps with our staff development efforts, as it allows teachers from different schools to meet and learn together. We hear from teachers regularly about the benefit of moving in this direction.  

What about late-start Wednesdays?

Late-start Wednesdays are an important opportunity for our teaching staff to meet to discuss student learning. This time allows teachers to create assessments, compare student work and plan upcoming instruction. At this point, the plan is to continue with late-start Wednesdays in 2019-2020. Like this year, start times would be adjusted approximately 40-60 minutes later on these days.

What does the sleep research show?

Research shows that teenagers require 9.25 hours of sleep for optimal health and that mental wellness directly correlates to optimal sleep. In addition, studies have shown that the biological “waking” clock shifts during preteen years resulting in later tiredness (11:00 p.m.) and therefore later “awake” time in the morning.

The proposal has Fidalgo’s schedule starting at 9 a.m. instead of 8:15. What about parents who rely on the school’s earlier start to accommodate work or family schedules?

We understand that Fidalgo’s early start can benefit parents’ work or family schedules -- and that a 45-minute later start could create challenges. We would work with community partners such as the YMCA to try to accommodate community needs.  

What about impacts on athletics, after-school activities, jobs, etc?

We understand that a 30 to 35-minute later release at the middle and high school creates additional pressure, particularly on community groups who use our facilities. This year is particularly challenging with the loss of the high school gym and packed schedules at the middle school gym and other facilities. In discussing next year with our administrative team, we believe the completion of the high school project will mitigate some of the pressure that a later start would bring. We understand that a later start could have some impacts on student jobs.

What about the loss of in-class time for students who will miss more instruction when they are released for athletics or activities?

We’ve examined fall, winter and spring sports/activities calendars to reflect on this question. It is true that students active in these pursuits would miss 4-5 hours more of class per season with a 30-minute later start. This proposal represents a belief by ASD administration that a later start for all students, based on the sleep research, outweighs the loss of 4-5 hours per season for our athletes and club participants.

Resources:

District Website - Discussion of School Start Times

Survey Responses - Parents, Students and Staff - May 2018

District Feasibility Study

American Academy of Pediatrics

Next steps:

Please take this short survey to provide your feedback. Please respond by Sunday, Dec. 2. The district and school board will review this feedback in mid-December. We will also hold community forums and staff meetings in January to gather more feedback. Those dates will be announced later in December. The school board plans to make a final decision after carefully reviewing all feedback from stakeholders.

Questions? Contact the Superintendent’s Office: 360-503-1211 or tramsay@asd103.org

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