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Pine-Richland officials discuss changing school start times |
North Hills

Pine-Richland officials discuss changing school start times

Karen Price

Pine-Richland School District administrators are getting closer to a decision on changing school start times.

The district has examined three different options with regards to moving to later start times in response to studies conducted into the sleep requirements of teens and adolescents by the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association and other organizations.

The AMA recommends high school and middle school days start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and the AAP supports that time, noting that it offers a better chance for students to get the optimal 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.

The high school and middle school start times are currently 7:20 a.m. Eden Hall Upper Elementary students start at 8:45 a.m. and elementary students start at 9:15 a.m.

One option was closing a layover of 15 to 20 minutes that they discovered exists in between the high school/middle school bus runs and the Eden Hall Upper Elementary bus runs that would allow the older students to start later.

The second option was shifting all school schedules back, with high school and middle school starting at either
7:45 a.m., 7:50 a.m. or 8 a.m.

The third option investigated, which was determined to not work logistically, was to flip-flop the Eden Hall and high school/middle
school schedules.

The district is leaning toward shifting all schedules back, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education and Curriculum Kristen Silbaugh told the school board at the Sept. 17 meeting.

“It’s something we’re looking at recommending and we’re looking forward talking with families at the upcoming strategic planning sessions,” she said.

Silbaugh said district officials hope to share with families the concept that restructuring the start times should work hand-in-hand with creating habits at home such as routine bedtimes and decreasing technology use before bed in order to help children get a good night’s sleep.

Superintendent Dr. Brian Miller reinforced that while they look forward to feedback and interaction with families and will take their ideas into consideration, the decision will not be made by majority rule.

He also echoed the importance of families working at home to help students get better sleep.

“We have the ability to make some small structural changes that (will make an) impact, but there also have to be some corresponding changes at home in families and with habits that students develop,” he said.

“(Students) have to develop habits in the evening, whether that’s how they manage their time, how they work ahead with projects or how they remove some of the stimulus that happens, whether it’s the TV, phone or all of the above while doing 20 other things. It has to work in concert.”

Miller said district officials hope to make a recommendation to the board before winter so that there will be plenty of time to communicate with families and help manage the impact of the transition on extra-curricular activities, athletics and others.

Details about an upcoming town hall, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10, should be available soon on the Pine-Richland website.

Karen Price is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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