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North Allegheny School Board Tables High School Start Time Issue

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The North Allegheny School Board voted Wednesday night to table an issue on whether or not to change the school day start time for its high school students.

Every parent that took to the podium at Wednesday's meeting said they believed those extra 35 minutes of sleep, will make all the difference.

"The research is, it's undeniable that later start times for kids are very important," said parent, Jaclyn Herring.

Right now, classes at the high school start at 7:25 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m. If the vote goes through, class will start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m.

"The children biologically are not meant to get up at this hour and go to school," said parent, Elinor Avigad. "For teens, the circadian rhythms in their body do not allow them to go to sleep at an earlier time."

Changing the start time at the high school would also affect the elementary and middle schools, but not by much. Classes at the middle schools would start 10 minutes earlier and classes at the elementary schools would start five minutes later.

One of the biggest challenges to the time change would be moving around the bus schedule, and if the district would have to spend more money to add more buses to get students to school on time.

"From the information I have, I can't give anybody in this room a guarantee that the busing situation will get your kid anymore sleep," said school board member Andrew Chomos.

"At this point, we will conduct a transportation study to further clarify some costs associated with transportation routes that would be affected by these start time changes," said North Allegheny School District spokesperson Emily Schaffer.

Despite some challenges, parents feel the benefits will be paramount when it comes to performance in the classroom.

It will reduce the stress level and also help with their mental faculties, their awake and awareness in class and their performance in school overall," said parent, Ken Behrend.

A date has yet to be set on when the board will revisit this issue.

Both Hampton and Fox Chapel Area school districts are also considering changing the start time for their high school students.

Those districts are still in the research phase.

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