Archive for Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lawrence school officials weigh pros and cons of later start times for teens

August 27, 2014


Lawrence High sophomore Brendan Connor tightens the strap of his helmet as he prepares to leave after the final bell on Wednesday at Lawrence High School. A report released Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that high school students should begin the school day at 8:30 a.m. or later to allow teens more sleep.

Lawrence High sophomore Brendan Connor tightens the strap of his helmet as he prepares to leave after the final bell on Wednesday at Lawrence High School. A report released Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that high school students should begin the school day at 8:30 a.m. or later to allow teens more sleep.

Alek Joyce wouldn't have wanted Free State High School to start later in the day — even if it held the promise of extra sleep.

"If it means staying in class until 4 p.m. or later, no," said Joyce, a Free State graduate now attending Kansas University. "I really wanted to leave FSHS by 3 p.m. already."

Area school officials are pondering the pros and cons of later start times after the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report this week recommending that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later so students are better rested for class.

The report said that when teens, whose natural sleep cycles often prevent them from falling asleep before 11 p.m., don't get enough rest, they are at risk for diminished academic performance, physical and mental health issues and a higher possibility of car accidents.

"I think it is something that we could talk about," said Shannon Kimball, president of the Lawrence school board. "But I know there are issues we have to balance when making decisions about start times for our schools."

She said bus routes would have to be a consideration, as would whether later start times (and thus later dismissals) would interfere with students' after-school activities and jobs. Lawrence middle schools currently start at 8:08 a.m., while the two high schools begin their days at 8:05 a.m.

Baldwin City Superintendent Paul Dorathy said later start times for middle and high schools would affect all of his district's students, who ride on the same buses. Currently, Baldwin City's high school starts at 8 a.m., while its junior high begins at 8:03 a.m.

He said he has heard from both parents who think school should start later and those who believe it should begin earlier.

"There's always been research that says kids that are well-rested do better on testing, do better on homework and are more attentive at school," he said. "But there are other factors."

Those include what would happen to students whose parents go to work early in the morning and would need to find childcare for them, he said.

Kevin Kohls, a teacher who lives in Lawrence, said schools, not doctors, should decide how to educate students.

"Starting later means after-school activities start later so kids get home later and have to stay up later to do homework," he said. "Plus, those kids who leave on activity and athletic trips before the day ends would end up missing more class."

Eudora middle and high schools start at 8:10 a.m. But, like the Lawrence and Baldwin City districts, it has no immediate plans to alter its start times. Eudora Superintendent Steve Splichal said students' sleep habits should also be analyzed.

"Are they staying up exceedingly late either by their choice or because of work or homework or playing? What are parents doing on their end in encouraging students to have a good sleep schedule?" he said. "I think the report will certainly spawn conversation, but I think there are some factors that are not being taken into account."


Fred Mion 3 years, 6 months ago

Why would middle and high school students need before-school childcare if their parents worked early? Middle school and high school students need a babysitter for an hour or so? Really?

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Simply tell them to go to bed earlier and stop facebooking and texting so late, then they will be awake earlier. Their own fault, not the rest of the world. They need to understand the world doesn't revolve around them.

Arnie Bunkers 3 years, 6 months ago

Yeah,that'l work Phil. They are texting BECAUSE they are up, not vice versa. Just like we were chatting on the landline or watching TV BECAUSE we were up. Tellin my 16 yr old to go to bed at 11 is a nonstarter

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Then I would question your parenting skills and the way you raised your children. Mine were always given a bedtime and all devices, TV, radio and landlines were off limits after that time, and that rule was enforced.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 6 months ago

I think you are a good parent because you took the time and effort and make and enforce house rules. But, I also think that some kinds have televisions, computers, etc. in their rooms and that makes it more difficult for the parent as they would always have to check up on them. It seems to me that Arnie is saying his child refused to obey him and he couldn't do anything about it.


Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 6 months ago

If that is what Arnie is saying then he needs to grow a backbone and act like an adult. Yes your child may be mad if you take things from them or give them rules to follow but tough sh#t your not their friend your their parent. Stop saying the kid won't let you and make them listen.

Charles Fogarty 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't blame social media. I taught high school for forty years and I can state clearly that the adolescent brain doesn't truly wake up until 10 a.m. Academic classes in the morning and electives and physical education, team sports, etc. in the afternoon.

Kaitlyn Foster 3 years, 6 months ago


Respectfully, it's not simply a matter of logging off Facebook or keeping the texts to a minimum. Many teens (myself included) have many obligations and responsibilities after school. I work, am president of a club and an editor for our school newspaper, and I'm taking three AP classes. That all adds up to a monumental amount of work that needs to be done. Getting that done before 11p.m. is a fool's wish.

If I could go to school half an hour later, I could sleep longer and feel more refreshed. Note that the article cites a study performed by the American Academy of Pediatrics - not just a group of random teenagers complaining about how early school starts. Thus, your argument that we need to get over ourselves is irrelevant here.

I highly suggest you read into the chemistry and psychology of the adolescent brain. You'd be surprised to know that our minds' natural cycles really do make sleeping prior to 11 o'clock fairly difficult, as the article above asserts.

Best, Kaitlyn Foster

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't buy that argument. You start a half hour later, now you will claim you can't get it done before 11:30 and therefore you need to start another half hour later. at what point does this line of thought stop? Start at noon or 1:00 PM? And along the same line, if you have so much work, why are you posting on a newspaper forum instead tackling that mountain of work you absolutely must do?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 6 months ago

Kaitlyn, you still have the same amount of work to do. If you start school a half hour later, you will have to stay a half hour longer.

Kaitlyn Foster 3 years, 6 months ago

You'll find that improved sleep results in higher academic performance as well as improved physical and mental health.

Once again, this has been stated in the article. I am starting to question whether or not you actually read it.

However, as much as I would like to continue our spirited debate, I do have much better things to spend my time on, like my 1984 poster for AP Lit and Comp, notes on Chapter 2 for my AP science class, haranguing newspaper staffers for not getting their assignments done, and trying to come up with a way to continue my school's recycling program after Deffenbaugh announced their decision to pull their service from the district.

Have a great rest of your day.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Maybe you should reduce the workload that you insist you must maintain? Ask yourself why? Don't buy your claims that you absolutely must do all these things. When you reach adulthood I feel you may change your mind about all the things you absolutely must do. Need to set your priorities and work on that list.

Kaitlyn Foster 3 years, 6 months ago

That, dear Wannemaker, is a discussion on the pressures of adolescence and college admissions for another day.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Will drop discussion as you wish. Just that I have raised 2 fairly successful children who started school at 7 AM throughout high school and have been reasonably successful. One with military and civil service success, one who heads a very high level IT department in a very prestigious university. So I may sound like a typical parent, but I've been there and done that.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 6 months ago

You are wonderful Kaitlyn. Thank you so much for your comments.


Shane Rogers 3 years, 6 months ago

Just realize that it doesn't get any easier as you get older.....consider the earlier start time and full schedule great practice for adulthood. I commend you for taking on the extra responsibility.

Jim Slade 3 years, 6 months ago

Yeah! Let's ignore known science in favor of "I had to do it when I was a kid, and so should you!"

Lord people are dumb at times. Start thinking outside the box. If a child's education can be IMPROVED by shifting school times, then maybe we should be looking at that option instead of saying it's just a bunch of lazy, whiney kids.

Belinda Rehmer 3 years, 6 months ago

Kaitlyn Foster, I applaud your work ethic and social activism but your articulation is beyond your years! To not only hold your own against a very negative and mean spirited Philipp Wannemaker, but to in effect 'shut him down" is very impressive and adult! You shall go far! Bravo!

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Not sure I appreciate your calling me mean spirited. From her and apparently your view point I was negative. I simply don't agree with her viewpoint. There are numerous studies done on sleep patterns and you can adjust to earlier bed times and wake up times. Other suggestions include a cool down period before bedtime, meaning no loud TV, radio and computer usage. Just relax and read a book maybe. And consider maybe trying to do slightly less activities. Another suggestion is to maintain the same sleep patterns on weekends and vacations. It works.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 6 months ago

One last point and I will drop entire thing. Are you sure that, based on both your employment and elected position you should be careful with how you respond to any forum post.

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