Earlier start time detrimental to student achievement

The school board made the decision Nov. 14  to start the school day 10 minutes earlier in the next school year for the junior and senior high schools and two elementary schools. This means the warning bell will now be at 7:35 a.m. and dismissal time at 2:40 p.m..

The goal of the change is to allow bus drivers to make the high school and elementary routes one after the other. This plan maximizes the reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and should save about $248,000.

In 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, the school district paid $7,023,294 for student transportation. This cost exceeds the reimbursement from the state by $3.25 million.

Saving hundreds of thousands of dollars is great for the school district and could provide the students with new opportunities, but starting the school day even earlier than the current start times can disrupt the student’s education.

According to studies done by University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School and the University of Nevada, teens need nine hours of sleep with later sleep and wake times.

At the age of 16 the biological wake time is around 8 a.m. and according to the Sleep Foundation the biological sleep time for a teen is around 11 p.m.. High schools should begin classes around 10 a.m., allowing enough time for the teen to be awake and ready to learn.

Students will have difficulties focusing in class if they are going to bed at their biological sleep time and waking earlier than their biological wake time. There are risks for the student’s grades to drop, especially in their morning classes.

Those in favor will argue the earlier start time will allow more time for extracurricular activities. The students will be home earlier from practices and meetings, which could allow for more social, family and study time.

The student’s health is more important than extra time for activities and a reimbursement. The school board should rethink it’s decision and either keep the start time the same or make it later. Students need to follow their biological wake and sleep times in order to remain healthy. The risk of students not being focused because of lack of sleep is too important to ignore.

The goal of school is to educate and prepare students. If students are tired and exhausted, they will not be receiving a proper education.

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