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Education & You: Is your school district considering a later start time?

Jamie Martines
gtrschooltimes001111817
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
With 20 minutes to go until sunrise, Seth Weston, a ninth-grader at Hempfield Area High School, waits for the bus at Frick Avenue in Hempfield Township on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.
gtrschooltimes001111817
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
With 20 minutes to go until sunrise, Seth Weston, a ninth-grader at Hempfield Area High School, waits for the bus at Frick Avenue in Hempfield Township on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.
gtrschooltimes001111817
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
With 20 minutes to go until sunrise, Seth Weston, a ninth-grader at Hempfield Area High School, waits for the bus at Frick Avenue in Hempfield Township on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

The TribLIVE Education Team is here for the final push to the end of the fall semester with a new weekly roundup format. Be sure to send us your feedback and tell us what you want to see covered by our team: [email protected] or 724-850-2867. Here’s what you need to know about education today.

Why it matters: As schools consider changing start times, where does that leave families?

The winter season has arrived in Pittsburgh. And with the first two-hour delay altering morning routines across the region, the TribLIVE Education Team wants to know: What does it take to get your kids off to school in the morning? What happens when that precise morning routine is thrown off course?

Speaking of the delicately choreographed maneuvers that get students out the door and off to school every morning, now is a good time to look back at a story from November: Western Pennsylvania school districts experiment with later start times.

Districts across the region, including some where the first bell rings at 7 a.m., are evaluating daily schedules as research and day-to-day experience make it increasingly clear that later start times could benefit students’ mental health and academic success.

The North Allegheny School District took another step toward making changes at Wednesday night’s board meeting, reviewing 5,530 survey responses from parents, guardians, students and staff. Some highlights:

• Seventy-four percent of respondents want to see a later start time at the high school, where students start their day at 7:25 a.m.

• About half of respondents were happy with current start times at the middle and elementary schools — 8:10 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively.

• Shifting all student start times back or flipping the elementary school start time before the high school was not supported.

The district also is considering changes to grade weighting, a move that could address the issues of student stress and sleep. North Allegheny administrators worry that too much stress and anxiety around academic performance could lead to suicides, the Post-Gazette reports.

For more on school start times, check out how parents in Boston are reacting to changes that will give high school students at Boston Public Schools a little extra time to sleep in:

• Boston parents voice concerns over new school start times, CBS Boston

• Parents protest new school start times, Boston Globe

And a look at debates out of California, New Mexico and Mechanicsburg, Pa:

• Later school start times spark debate in California, WESA

• Stressed-out high schoolers advised to try nap pods, WESA

• Mechanicsburg school board considers changes to school start times for 2018-19, The Sentinel

Here are a few more things to know about education in Pennsylvania today:

1. Near miss when a van passes stopped school bus in Jefferson Township

2. Saint Vincent College gets scholarship to promote female STEM enrollment

3. Local schools compete in, win Contraption Contest at Carnegie Science Center

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM: Every morning, students in the Keystone Oaks School District prepare, record and broadcast the daily announcements — all before the first bell. Take a look behind the scenes with the fifth-graders of Dormont Elementary School and hear from their teacher about what it takes to make this quick-turnaround production successful every day. Administrators also comment on how they’ve worked to implement this technology in schools across the district.

Follow the TribLIVE Education Team on Twitter:

• Emily Balser, Valley News Dispatch: @emilybalser

• Deb Erdley, Greensburg: @deberdley_trib

• Natasha Lindstrom, Pittsburgh: @NewsNatasha

• Jamie Martines, Greensburg: @Jamie_Martines

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at [email protected], 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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