Liverpool — Sleepyheaded high schoolers in the Liverpool Central School District may have reason to rejoice: the Modified School Start Time Committee has recommended that the district pursue a plan to start classes later in the morning at Liverpool High School.
Committee member Mike DeLucia read a statement on behalf of the committee at the Liverpool school board’s Jan. 11 meeting.
“We have achieved consensus that it would be in the best interest of the LCSD students that the board of education pursue the development of a plan to modify the school start times district-wide, allowing for a later start time at the high school and potentially adjusting the times for other levels as deemed appropriate,” DeLucia said.
The committee suggested that the board put together a “working group of community members, students, faculty and administrators” to develop the plan, which will address academic, extracurricular, transportation and budget concerns.
The Modified School Start Time Committee did not have a specific recommendation for when the plan could be implemented or what time classes at LHS should start, but DeLucia said shooting for the 2017-18 school year is not unrealistic. Currently, the first bus pickup is at 6:45 a.m. and classes at LHS begin at 7:40 a.m. DeLucia said elementary school start times likely would not be affected, but could be moved earlier.
DeLucia thanked a group of teachers whom Superintendent Dr. Mark Potter had asked in 2014 to investigate whether high schoolers would benefit from more sleep and starting school later. The group included Elmcrest Elementary third grade teacher Jamie Durgey, LHS special education teacher Jennifer Fragola, LHS Spanish teacher Amy Pento, Liverpool Middle School science teacher Barbara Salvagni and LHS biology teacher Maura White.
“The ability of the committee members to understand the impact of sleep deprivation on adolescents and the potential impact of a modified school start time was dramatically enhanced and facilitated by their hard work,” DeLucia said.
continued — School board members reacted positively to the committee’s conclusions and encouraged current committee members to make themselves available for the development plan committee.
“I would like to see this move forward,” BOE Vice President John Kennedy said.
“This is something we should take a serious look at, the good and the bad,” board member Kevin Van Ness said.
Van Ness asked DeLucia whether there would be “pushback” from district parents against tweaking school schedules.
“There are going to be some families that currently utilize their older adolescent students for daycare in the afternoons. It would negatively impact some parents but positively impact other parents,” DeLucia said, adding that older siblings might be able to care for their younger siblings in the morning if the high school starts later.
DeLucia said other families may be concerned about the modified start time’s effect on athletics and other extracurricular activities, but he said the data on adolescent sleep deprivation was “overwhelming,” leading the committee to conclude that it would be beneficial to start school later.