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District 284 Reviews School Start Times and Impact on Learning

A Wayzata Public Schools study found that fifty percent of Wayzata parents say their teen “lacks energy” possibly due to early school start times.

At a Jan. 28 meeting, Wayzata Public Schools board members reviewed a study that said more than half of Wayzata High School students have difficulties “waking up and getting moving” in the morning. This lack of energy could be due to the school’s early start time.


According to school board documents, Wayzata High School’s 7:30 a.m. start is the earliest start time in the Lake Conference. Edina High School has a “0 hour” period from 7:30-8:25, which students can optionally attend. Minnetonka High School has the latest school start time in the conference with classes beginning at 8 a.m.

“One challenge that exists in modification to school start times is in accommodating for the busy lives of students and their families,” Superintendent Chace Anderson said in documents, noting that 75 percent of high school students are involved in after school activities. “School start times also have an impact on families and staff members with before/after school care needs and would further impact staff and the before/after school programs offered by the school district.”

Almost 3,000 high school parents responded to a Start Time Feedback Survey sent in October on behalf of the district.

Of those 3,000, 61 percent said that their child “seems to lack energy.” Out of 265 high school employees who took the survey, 65 percent said that their students are more alert and ready to learn in the afternoon than in the morning.
      
Because of the district’s early start time, school board documents show that Wayzata High School students are only getting a maximum of 7 or 7.5 hours of sleep a night. The National Sleep Foundation reports that teens need a little more than 9 hours of sleep each night.

The district has not yet made changes to school start times. Next steps for the district include analyzing the survey information, considering research that shows connections between adolescent sleep patterns and start times, and reviewing issues like transportation.

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We want to know: Does your Wayzata Public Schools child get enough sleep? Are current start times too early? Tell us in the comments.

Rachel Ames February 06, 2013 at 01:30 PM
School starts way too early. There is no teen on earth who can get enough sleep with early start times. Do you know any teen who goes to bed at 9:00pm? Didn't think so.
Dave Haas February 06, 2013 at 03:51 PM
The challenge the board faces is a big one. They are stuck between start times, and busing constraints. According to Dr. Anderson and Jim Westrum, they can't reduce the number of tiers of busing, due to contraints from First Student (ie Number of Buses, Number of qualified drivers, and retention rate). So they have to stick with 3 tiers - one early, one middle and one late. Currently all of the middle schools are "middle start" - if they shift them to late start, then move HS and elementaries to middle start, and the remaining 5 elementaries to early start - you'd have some elementary kids out on the corners as early as 6:30 in January (dark and 20 below zero). If you move the middle schools to early start, HS and a couple of elementary schools to middle or late - then you have middle school students out on the street at 6:30 am - in the dark and waiting for buses when it is 20 below. Not as bad as having Elem kids out there, but still not good. Personally I'd like the board / school to go to First Student and say - we're doing 2 tiers of busing - you get the buses and drivers, or we'll get a company that can handle it. But being Minnesota nice and Wazyata proper - the board won't even consider that.

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