Later school start times, longer day for elementary students rec - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Later school start times, longer day for elementary students recommended in Montgomery County

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When the sound of the alarm clock pierces the early morning quiet, perhaps nobody likes it less than a teenager. Now, it appears some Maryland high school students may be getting a reprieve.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr is recommending changes to the school schedule.

It is the result of a report from the 2013 Bell Times Working Group. The group was assigned the task of studying the pros and cons of changing what time the school day begins and ends. They have been researching the issue for ten months.

At the heart of the discussion is a desire to let the county's 45,000 high school students sleep in a bit.

"There's a clear link between student health and well-being and sleep,” says Dr. Starr. “If kids can start the day later, we expect they will get more sleep. It's related to safer roads, kids being more alert."

The superintendent is proposing that high school students start their day 50 minutes later. Instead of 7:25 a.m., the bell would ring at 8:15 a.m.

Middle school students would begin classes ten minutes earlier at 7:45 a.m.

Elementary students would still start at the current time, but their school day would be extended by 30 minutes.

The superintendent says Montgomery County elementary students have the second shortest school day in the state. The total time is six hours and 15 minutes. Starr says the extra half hour would be used for instructional time.

Parents, students and employees will have a chance to express their views at public forums and in writing. Starr will share the full report with the board of education next week. They still have to determine whether the changes are cost-effective and how the schedule overhaul might work.

If the changes are approved by the board, the earliest possible implementation would be in the 2015-2016 school year.

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