The Lance

School start time: Montgomery Co. explores options
If you look bad, feel moody, lack motivation, and perform poorly, it’s probably you’re not getting enough sleep. Many students feel like zombies getting ready for school in the morning and wish they could have just an hour more of sleep. For Montgomery County students this could be a reality as early as 2015.

Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools Joshua P. Starr has recommended that MCPS consider pushing back high school start times by 50 minutes. This would move the start time from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and the end time to 3 p.m. The county will study the issue with a series of parent and community round tables.

Sophomore Greg Thompson says he’s against the idea of school starting later.“Starting school later would push back after school and extra-curricular activities. You’d have less time for homework and go to bed later.” He does agree that going to school later in the day would help him focus.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies show that students at schools with later starting times had improved attendance, less tardiness, fewer trips to the school nurse,  and improvements in student behavior and performance.

Junior Vinny D ‘Amore says he’s for schools starting later. “Although it would take a while to adjust to a time change, I’d probably pay more attention and not dose off in class.”  D‘Amore admits that he would probably still get the same amount of sleep because he’d have to go to bed at a later time to make up for getting home later.

Teens need about 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night to function best, but most teens don’t reach that recommendation. One study from the National Sleep Foundation found that only 15% of teens reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.

The National Sleep Foundation’s report also found that typical adolescent’s natural time to fall asleep may be 11 pm or later; because of this change in their internal clocks, teens may feel wide awake at bedtime, even when they are exhausted.

What’s an internal clock? Everyone has a preprogrammed body clock the enables them to wake up or fall asleep at certain times, and it’s different for everybody.

Mr. Jan Witt, assistant principal, said “I’m for anything that will better the ability for our students to learn.” But he doesn’t think that Frederick County will be changing the start time any time soon. “It would be very difficult. There’s a lot you have to consider such as extra-curricular activities, jobs and sports after school, sorting out buses, and teachers’ schedules.”

He continues to say that, that although there are many setbacks to changing the time, there are still many advantages. “Studies shows that students starting school at a later time in the day can help them focus and perform better, especially for the teenage age group.” He says if FCPS decided to change the start time, he would recommend to start about an hour later than we do now.

A time change would not only affect the teachers and students coming to school but parents, and siblings, too.

Becky DuBro, mother of sophomore Olivia DuBro said, “I would definitely be for school starting later in the morning.  I feel that teenagers really require more sleep, and they are usually up later at night.  They are slower to get started in the morning than young kids.  I think it would ultimately help their test scores. “

If the possible changes to Montgomery County schools are finalized, middle schools would get home earlier than the high school students. This could create a problem for parents who rely on their teenagers to watch younger siblings in middle school.

The superintendent of Montgomery County is holding a series of round tables to discuss the recommendation further.

Abby Ryan, Reporter

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