BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools administrators are considering shifting school start times. Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen says research shows teens and pre-teens perform better and miss less school, if they start at 8:30 or later. "A lot of it comes down to circadian rhythms or sleep patterns, basically, for adolescents as they move from those middle school to high school years. Kids are just wired in a way to stay up later and get up later. Research points to better success in school, both academically and attendance-wise. Those are some things that we pay attention to."
A School Start Time Advisory Committee has been looking into the research and whether any changes are possible, "We start most of our secondary schools at 7:45. So, we’re looking at is there a way to start secondary schools – middle and high schools – later," Mathisen tells KBND News. "And, it’s a complex challenging problem to try and solve."
Mathisen says the issue is complicated because the district must address the needs of all students, kindergarten through 12th grade, "Transportation concerns are part of that. So, when we think about, ‘how do you bus thousands of students to school each day, and what are the logistical challenges in doing that?’ We use the same buses and the same drivers to get our secondary students to school for 7:45 start times. Those same buses and drivers then turn around and go get our elementary students to pick them up and get them to school for a 9:00 start." He adds, "If we flipped and started elementary at 7:45, then we know that our earliest bus-rider elementary kiddos would be waiting for those buses an hour or more before that. So, think about how dark and cold it is at 6:30 in the morning – do we want five-year-olds waiting out at our bus stops?"
The district will host a community feedback meeting Tuesday evening. Mathisen is scheduled to present more data and options; he encourages the entire community to get involved, "We have folks asking us, ‘what are you thinking, what are you doing?’ And, this is a chance for us to literally do that – engage in person, and share some of the thinking that’s gone on; not necessarily to solve it." He says it’s too early to know whether start times would change by next fall.
Tuesday's meeting takes place at Pilot Butte Middle School, 5:30 - 7 p.m. Click HERE
for more information.