Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

District Eyes Later Start Times Giving Teens More Sleep Comes at Cost

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

District Eyes Later Start Times Giving Teens More Sleep Comes at Cost

Article excerpt

North Allegheny School District officials would still like to start the high school day later so teenagers can get more sleep.

But a decades-old state law requiring public school districts to provide transportation for private and parochial students may make that impossible without a large increase in the bus fleet and the budget, board members learned.

There are 15 different start times if the private schools are included in the mix, said Jason Corbally, president of Education Logistics Inc. the company that provides the software that North Allegheny uses to schedule buses.

The firm provides bus routing software to school districts across North America, according to its website.

"I can't think of another state that requires public schools to transport to private schools," Mr. Corbally said.

North Allegheny officials began studying whether to move the high school start time as one of several initiatives designed to reduce student stress. National experts, including pediatricians, say that high school students do not get enough sleep.

Several school systems across the country have moved the start time for high school to 8:30 a.m. or later. However, many of those, such as Seattle, are urban districts that rely on public transportation, Mr. Corbally noted.

"It drives me batty that the average high school start time is 8 o'clock and we are at 7:25," said board member Kevin Mahler. "It's frustrating to not have a good answer to that."

Mr. Corbally and Roger Sechler, director of operations for the district, presented the board with several scenarios for starting high school later, and the requirements and annual cost of each scenario:

* Scenario 1: High school would start at 8:15 a.m., middle school at 7:45 a.m. There would be two start times for elementary students, 8:25 a.m. and 8:55 a.m.

"This would be nice. In a perfect world, these start times are where you want to be," Mr. Corbally said.

However, this scenario would require the district to add 30 buses and drivers at an annual cost of $1.6 to $2 million.

* Scenario 2: High school start, 7:40 a.m.; middle school, 8:25 a.m.; and elementary school, 9:15 a.m.

This scenario moves high school back only by 15 minutes. …

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