Board says no to start time change for 2019-2020

March 09, 2018

School board members have decided now is not the right time to change start times for district schools. While acknowledging the medical evidence and research suggesting that a high school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later would better align with teens’ unique sleep needs, the board unanimously decided to hold off on making a change - at least for now.

“I feel like we just went through one of the most difficult years any district can go through with the amount of changes we went through last year,” said board member Sarah Stivland. “In some ways, I feel like we as a community are still kind of grappling with that. We haven’t even gotten to the new normal yet from the changes we did at the beginning of this year. I think strongly we should put this decision off for at least another year.”

The idea of starting the high school later in the morning to allow teens to sleep later has been in the news a lot lately. Some districts have already made a change or are considering a change. In January, the school board began a discussion about changing start times for students at Stillwater Area High School in 2019-2020 as a way to improve both the physical and mental health of students.

Changing start times for the high school, however, would impact start times at all other schools in the district. Some of the challenges of a change include shifting middle schools and several elementary schools start times earlier in the morning - resulting in younger kids waiting for buses or walking to school prior to sunrise. It would also increase the number of  high school students who would miss part of the school day to participate in athletics and activities. Charter and non-public/private schools, for whom the district provides transportation, would also be impacted with a later start to their day.

During the March 8 board meeting, board members agreed not to pursue a change at this time. Instead, they’ve decided to continue working with the community to educate parents and students about sleep health and the unique sleep needs of teenagers. The board will also consider creating a group of parents, students and staff to further research start times and develop possible solutions for the future.

Learn more about teenage sleep patterns and the benefits of later start times:

  • Watch a presentation by a University of Minnesota researcher and a representative from the Minnesota Sleep Society.
  • View additional research on start times and teen sleep health.
  • Watch the March 8 school board meeting to hear a discussion on the impact of start time changes in the district.