Update from May 6 Meeting


Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Cowherd thanked the parents, teachers and administrators for giving their time to help with this work.

She shared that in this first phase of the process, this Sleep and Start Times Research work group would be tasked with researching and providing facts about sleep research and the possible effects of different start time schedules on schools and students.

In the next phase of the process, the Bus Drivers and Start Times committee will use this information to help make a recommendation to the Board about how to address our problems here in Park Hill that come from the nationwide bus driver shortage.

The Bus Drivers and Start Times committee will be a larger, Board-approved committee, and there will be an application process for people who want to participate.

The Board is scheduled to approve this committee and the criteria and timeline for this process at its July 25 meeting. This committee must complete its work by October, in case the committee recommends a change in which grade levels start earliest. This is because it takes much longer for the high schools to do their scheduling for the following year, and we would need to make arrangements for staffing.

The group members passed the microphone around and introduced themselves to each other.

Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services Dr. Jeff Klein, the leader of this work group, shared what the team’s purpose would be. He said that together, they would find answers to a series of questions:
  • How do start times affect sleep?
  • How does sleep affect school?
  • How do different start times affect after-school activities?
  • How do different start times affect school programming?
  • What are important scientific and logistical considerations for start times for elementary, middle and high school?

Dr. Klein shared the group’s charter.
  • Deliverables:
    The group will provide findings to the Bus Driver and Start Times committee, with the answers to the questions listed under “purpose.”

  • Activities:
    The group will review and summarize research to find the answers to the questions, and it will identify the logistical impact of various start times.

  • Scope:
    The group will try to deal only in facts, rather than opinions, and it will not provide judgements or value-based recommendations.

The group broke into four subgroups, which began the work of answering the questions. After long discussions in each subgroup, they came back together to report out to the whole group.
  • Sleep Research:
    This group reviewed a meta-analysis of many research studies. The research had appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.

    From this first review of the data, the group found that this analysis showed a great deal of research attempting to tie the amount of sleep to success in school, but it was not reliable or conclusive. However, they said there was reliable data that shows a clear change in natural sleep cycles when children become teenagers, and they found a correlation between later start times for teenagers and reduced traffic accidents, as well as improved mental health.

    In the coming weeks, this group plans to find more peer-reviewed journal articles to read together in order to get more data.

  • Elementary, Middle-School and High-School Logistics:
    These three groups brainstormed how a variety of different start and end times would affect schools, students and families at their grade levels. Then they started reading through all the comments that came in from parents, staff and students through the recent start times survey, to help them identify every possible impact of each start-time scenario.

    In the coming weeks, they will reach out to others to help them identify any effects they might have missed, and they will gather data to help prove their findings.

Dr. Klein and Dr. Cowherd thanked everyone for their time and effort.

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