Seattle Public Schools considers later start times for students

SEATTLE -- Later start times for students in Seattle Public Schools is a big step closer to reality.

After pressure from parents, the district will finally consider the issue.  Thursday night will be the first meeting of a task force of parents, teachers, administrators and sleep experts to make recommendations to the School Board.

Parents and others who have been pushing this argue that science is on their side.  They point to research that demonstrates that later start times improve academic performance and test scores.

“For parents, and for districts, and for taxpayers, we’re trying to get the best academic outcomes,” said Melissa Westbrook, leader of the Save Seattle Schools community blog.  “This, frankly, is probably the best bang for the buck.”

Thousands in Seattle have already signed a petition calling for later start times, and that was part of the pressure that pushed the district to form the new task force.

Here’s where things when it comes to start times here in Seattle.

Current                Proposed

High Schools:               7:50                     8:40

Middle Schools:         7:50                      9:20

Elem. Schools:       8:40/9:30               8:00

The plan, if petitioners get their way, is basically to swap the start times of middle and high schools with elementary schools.

Supporters of this change have a big name on their list of endorsers.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has come out in favor of this change.  In fact, some other districts around the country have already led the way.

The task force will issue recommendations to the School Board next June.  Any change wouldn’t happen until fall of 2016.