Eight Major Obstacles to Delaying School Start Times

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The following are eight major obstacles to changing school start times :

1. Transportation

Because most school districts have a delicately balanced bus transportation system designed to run as efficiently and inexpensively as possible, any change in the school schedule can have a severe impact. The specific circumstances in each district vary, but problems that arise can include cost, recruiting drivers, and/or redesigning the routes.

One solution that has worked to solve this problem is flipping start times, most commonly elementary with high school. This solution requires no extra buses or drivers, just a change in the order of pickups. This schedule also seems to be more appropriate to elementary school students’ sleep schedules, because young children tend to wake up earlier in the morning. This is a very dicey issue; however, in districts where the start time is quite early. If the young students have to go to school so early, they have to go to bed VERY early (because they need 10 - 11 hours of sleep). Parents may not get home from work until very near or after bedtime. The direct flip cannot work unless all start times are reasonable.

Another solution that may be implemented is a shift to public transportation for older students. In many cases, the public bus routes are similar to yellow bus routes, and can be used by students. Many districts have found they can actually save money by buying students bus passes and eliminating a large portion of their yellow bus fleet.

Some communities face another problem, which is that shifting start times will impact traffic congestion and commuting for both teachers and students. Teen drivers are at the highest risk for drowsy driving ; however, and preliminary studies have shown that delaying their school start time has a significant effect in lowering the occurrence of such crashes.

2. After School Activities

High school athletics are very important to many students who have obvious concerns about the impact of a change in start times on their ability to participate. Any delay in the start of school will most likely result in