Update from Aug. 7 meeting

by Matthew Kenwright,

CRITERIA BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE
Dr. Paul Kelly, assistant superintendent for business services, told the group that they would continue providing background information about the criteria at this meeting.

Align with findings from Sleep and Start Times work group:
The School Start Time Plan will align with findings from the district’s Sleep and Start Times work group.
Priority: very important

  • Dr. Jeff Klein, assistant superintendent for academic services, shared information about the findings of the Sleep and Start Times work group. He said that individual studies can be interpreted in different ways, so it is important to look at a broad cross-section of data. He said the work group looked at several meta-analyses of many research studies. He said the best meta-analysis came from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

  • He listed several findings from the work group’s review of the data:
    • Elementary student sleep time and related outcomes do not appear to be affected much by different start times.

    • Teens have different circadian rhythms than younger children or adults. As a result, it is difficult for them to fall asleep early and wake up early.

    • Most teens are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

    • There are significant limitations in the research regarding sleep and start times.

    • For teens, later start times are associated with longer total sleep time.

    • Some evidence shows moving high school and middle school start times later may result in:

      • Some reduction in student sleepiness

      • Some reduction in morning automobile accidents involving students

      • Some reduction in truancy

      • Some reduction in symptoms of depression

    • Results are inconclusive for outcomes related to academic achievement.

  • The work group also found evidence of how potential changes in start times might impact students, families and schools, reported Dr. Klein, with the help of Director of Elementary Education Dr. Jasmine Briedwell, Director of Educational Programs Dr. Stephanie Amaya, and Director of Secondary Education Dr. Jaime Dial.

    • In many scenarios, families’ child care needs would likely change.

    • For elementary and middle school students, very early start times would mean bus riders and walkers would be outside in the dark and in colder temperatures.

    • Later start times would mean elementary and middle school students who live at the end of bus routes might be dropped off after 5 p.m. Other impacts for students in these grade levels with later start times include limiting after-school activities and preventing bus riders waiting in the dark in the mornings.

    • Later start times would result in students involved in after-school activities getting home after dark during daylight savings time.

    • Later start times would result in limited after-school activities.

    • Later start times would result in bus routes running during afternoon rush hour.

    • For high-school students with later start times, impacts include . . .

      • Student-athletes and coaches in many sports would miss additional class time to attend sporting events scheduled outside the traditional class schedule.

      • Student access to outside community activities like dance or athletics would decrease.
      • Lights would need to be installed on practice and playing fields.

      • Student access to Professional Studies opportunities would be limited.

      • Students who rely on individual transportation services would not be able to use taxis after 5 p.m.

      • Facility access for community practices and activities would be reduced.

      • Some high school practices and activities could occur before school.

  • More than 1,000 families and almost 400 staff members filled out a survey for the work group.

    • Results of surveys indicate both staff and guardians highly value increasing adolescent sleep, and a slight majority of both groups favor changing high school start times to later in the morning.

    • Differences in survey responses were much greater for socioeconomic status and ethnicity than for grade span.

    • A consistent finding is guardians of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were more likely to affirm the importance of findings related to student safety early in the morning or later in the evening.

  • Dr. Klein summarized the implications of the work group’s findings, saying that, as the district addresses the nationwide bus driver shortage, it would be prudent to focus on minimizing the negative side effects of moving start times, balanced with addressing the issue of adolescent sleep.

Maintain access to academic and extra-curricular programming:
The School Start Time Plan will not negatively impact current academic opportunities or extracurricular programming.
Priority: very important
  • Dr. Klein covered this criterion as part of his summary of the work of the Sleep and Start Times work group.

Minimize negative impact on families:
The School Start Time Plan will minimize negative impact on families, such as negative impacts on child care solutions, negative financial impact to families, and negative impact on access to opportunities and activities outside of school.
Priority: very important

  • Lisa McLaughlin, coordinator of community programs, who is in charge of our school-age child care program, said that we do not plan to change Adventure Club hours or rates when start times change.

  • She provided some data about our current Adventure Club enrollment. She shared that we usually clear the waiting lists by mid-fall, and she said we have waiting lists because it is difficult to recruit people for these part-time positions. Many of our staff members in this area are college students.

  • She said that after-school clubs that our Community Education program offers could be offered before school as well, if needed.

  • Nicole Kirby, director of communication services, said that we are using the Park Hill Listens site similarly to how we used it last school year. She said we are posting updates and information on the site, and we will post answers to frequently asked questions in the next few weeks. Once the advisory committee comes up with some options to consider, we will post those on Park Hill Listens and ask for public feedback on them. We will have an open house for people to review and respond to the potential options from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on October 1 at Plaza Middle School.

  • Dr. Mike Kimbrel, executive director of quality and evaluation, reviewed the advisory committee’s feedback from the previous meeting, and he showed how he analyzed it, putting it into categories based on the different criteria.

Minimize change and disruption:
The School Start Time Plan will minimize the number of students whose school start time changes by more than 15 minutes.
Priority: very important

  • Dr. Kelly showed the advisory committee how it will measure how much each proposal impacts students.

  • He emphasized that the example he showed them was just for demonstration, because, while the Board has already decided that we will go to a multi-tier bus system, what that plan will look like is entirely up in the air.

Maintain consistency with benchmark schools and districts:
School start and end times in the district’s School Start Time Plan will be consistent with benchmark school districts.
Priority: important

  • Dr. Kelly showed how several, similar school districts in our region, which compete with our students in athletics, arrange their bus routes and start times.

Next meeting
The next advisory committee meeting will be 4:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, August 28 in the media center at Plaza Middle School. It is open to the public


Presentation slides [PDF]

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