BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools officials are asking for community feedback on a proposal to shift school start times. Elementary schools would start an hour earlier, and older kids would start an hour later than they do now because experts believe teens need more sleep.
Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist says it appears teens need more sleep, "We’re seeing studies that show its rate, obviously on attendance and tardiness; but, social emotional well-being, depression and all those things of course are linked to academic performance." She tells KBND News, "In my generation, our thought was, ‘hey, they can just get up earlier and go to bed earlier.’ Well, it’s not as easy as that. As we learn more about brain development, there’s something in the adolescent brain that’s almost wired for being more that night owl."
Currently, elementary schools start at 9 a.m. and secondary schools start at 7:45, "The time switch that we’re looking at is starting elementaries at 8 and they would get out at 2:30. And, starting middle and high at 8:45, and they would either get out at 3:40 or 3:45," says Nordquist.
The school district is asking for community feedback through an online survey through the end of May because, Nordquist says, there are a lot of issues to consider, on top of sleep patterns, "Changing our start times effects lots of people, maybe with traffic patterns and things like that. So, we really want as broad an outreach as we can get." She says they're also looking at athletics schedules, since a later start for the high school would push outdoor practices and competitions past dark, especially in the fall.
Nordquist expects a final decision by early fall, and any changes wouldn’t take effect until the fall of 2019. "Because we have lots of community partners that we would need to work with if we were switching; day cares, families know well in advance, in terms of changes in their schedules."