Do you support a later start time for teens? APTO committee wants your feedback

Last month, I wrote about a parent committee exploring a later school start time for district high schoolers. The APTO committee has more news to share and a survey for you.

District parents launched the Massachusetts Chapter of a national movement. Start School Later is a nonprofit organization that supports efforts to start high school no earlier than 8:00 a.m.

Based on the health, education, and behavioral concerns related to early wake up times for teens, the committee is researching a proposal to implement changes for Algonquin Regional High School.

Since the high school buses are shared with the elementary schools, this could impact all the schools in the district. So, before they get too far along, they want to take the community’s temperature.

They created a 4 question, simple survey in hopes that people will take a minute to respond. If you are a parent, teacher or school administrator, please click here to complete it.

If you would like to get involved in their effort or provide more feedback, you can email

(If you are wondering what all the fuss is about, read last month’s story for details.)

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Dick Snyder
9 years ago

I am not an expert but I have spent the last 11 years volunteering in a high school in Dorchester. I work with high school juniors helping them figure out where they may want to apply to college in their senior year. Since many would be the first in their family to go to college they need some help in this process from outside the home. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen students, even our brightest, dragging around since they stay up late at night but still have to get into school on time. I worry about the early start times for SAT and ACT tests. I think it is a well established fact that teen agers have a very different body clock than adults. Anything we could do to recognize that fact and help would be a good thing.

Mark Ford
9 years ago

…I’ve got to revise my survey responses! I said that the members of our family were all early risers, so school start time didn’t matter to us…then I asked my 10th grade son, who set me straight. He said there’s not a kid in High School who doesn’t wish school started later.

Jennifer Primack
9 years ago

Absolutely. There is pretty compelling research which shows the negative effect of early school start on adolescents’ emotional well-being. Dr. Mary Carskadon, sleep researcher at Brown University has published extensively about this issue with the conclusion that early school start times negatively impact adolescent circadian rhythms and these disruptions lead to increased rates of emotional and behavioral problems. See link I provided below. As a parent and psychologist, I would be very supportive of later start time.

9 years ago

A pretty limited survey that can’t really provide too much information to the study group.
Some other questions that would bring a bit more clarity to the situation:
1. Do you have children in both high school and lower school grades?
2. Would you expect a delay in high school start times to:
a. result in earlier start times for lower grades?
b. result in later start times for lower grades?
c. not change the start times for lower grades?
3. If you are parent to a high school student, is it important that they arrive home before younger siblings?

I think the cadence of start and dismissal times was established to support households with two working parents who needed the older sibling to arrive home before the younger ones. This study group needs to understand if that is still an issue.

Tessa Stephens
9 years ago
Reply to  southsider

I wonder exactly how much the early start time IS in place for the points you indicated Southsider. I would hope we aren’t sending our teens off to school at the crack of dawn so that they are available after school babysitters.

SB Resident
9 years ago
Reply to  southsider

Southsider you are correct. This survey is fairly meaningless and I don’t believe it is intended to come up with a solution, but rather to develop statistics that the proponents can use for their argument. I previously wrote the schedule exists due to contraints and is the best we got. Here are those contraints.

The current schedule is school day: 720-150. 150-245 after school activities. 3-? sports.

So the reality is any change comes with tradeoffs because the schedule is in place as much back to front as it is front to back. Meaning, it was determined that atheletic practice can’t begin after 3, due to a variety of reasons, but largerly to stay in sync with other districts for game/meet scheduling and so that in general the kids can still get home around 5.

So for any change the choices are:
a) shorten the school day (I personally think 6.5 hrs is pretty short as it is and don’t consider this an option, and given the gym requirement boondogle, I don’t think many others would consider this an option either)
b) remove after school activities for those in sports (not really an option since it is generally accepted that getting extra help is required to be available, and detention is required) and I’m assuming many don’t want to choose between their after school activies and sports.
c) Shifting it all out such that sports start after 3. This may cause scheduling trouble for games/meets and there is the problem that kids need to get home for dinner, family time, and homework and as a result may go to bed even later thus nullifing the whole objective.

This doesn’t even factor in the bussing issues for the other grades as well.

Looking back on the days when I was in high school, I feel like the early times prepared me for life. In college, I had early classes and later I’ve had jobs that start at all sorts of different times. Learning to manage your sleep is a valuable life skill. The world runs on schedules and they can’t all be made your own.

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