Scientific studies have shown that high school students do better when their schools start later. Recognizing that students need more time to sleep, the Seattle School District began studying how to implement later start times in 2014. They hired consultants to study how to implement the school schedule changes and to write an environmental impact statement.

Based on the recommendations in the EIS, the Seattle School District introduced the new start time schedule in the Fall 2017 with schools starting at 4 different times across the district. Parents of elementary school students complained that there were too many different start times and especially complained that starting elementary school at 9:35 am was a hardship. The Seattle School District responded to the criticism and now middle and high schools start at 9:00 am and elementary schools start at 8:00 am (with a few exceptions.)

University of Washington researchers took the opportunity to study how students were affected by the schedule changes. They put wrist sensors on high school students to track their sleep patterns before and after the start times were changed and found that high school students got an extra 34 minutes of sleep per night and their grades improved!*

The Lake Washington School District convened its own School Start Time Advisory Task Force in 2017 with the intent of changing the starting times for high school students to coincide with their internal clocks. The task force moved elementary school start times later to 9:00 am and 9:30 am, but left high school start times unchanged!

Our school board and superintendent have had ample opportunity to address school start times and yet our high schools still start at 7:30 AM. The district has assigned the task of studying school start times to district administrators whose superficial analysis and reports have resulted in no action.

If I am elected, I will recommend that the board direct the superintendent to hire outside consultants to study the issue and write a comprehensive recommendation for how to implement new start times across the district and have start times addressed by 2020-2021.

*Science Advances  12 Dec 2018: Vol. 4, no. 12, eaau6200 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau6200