Jul 30, 2014

School Start Times Topic of Temecula Parent Survey

Parents are being asked for their input as to whether they would support an earlier start time for elementary and middle schools, and a later start time for high schools.

School Start Times Topic of Temecula Parent Survey

Parents in the Temecula Valley Unified School District are being given a chance to weigh in on a possible change to school start times.

An online survey was posted Aug. 24 to gather parent feedback. It asks two questions: whether parents would support a later start time for high school students, and if they would support an earlier start time for elementary students.

A discussion over start times began last school year when a group of Temecula Valley High School students The club urged people to sign an online petition in support of legislation to prevent the school day from starting before 8 a.m.

The district office then took up the matter when a presentation was made before the school board in March, according to Melanie Norton, spokesperson for the Temecula Valley Unified School District.

"At the time, the board said 'go ahead and get more information about it and survey the stakeholders—the kids and the parents,'" Norton said.

As such, the online survey is expected to be available for the next few weeks, she said.

Research gathered by the district shows teenagers need 9.25 hours of sleep, but their natural tendency at those ages is to fall asleep at about 11 p.m.

Sleep deprivation can affect social behavior and academic performance. It can lead to obesity, depression, stress and lack of the ability to concentrate, according to research cited in a staff report presented to school board members.

Additionally, according to the district, research shows younger students are very awake in the early morning hours, more so than teenagers.

Currently, high schools in the district begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.; Middle schools start at 8:15 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m., and the elementary school day runs from 8:55 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Should the district choose to adjust start times, there are two scenarios under current consideration.

The first scenario would have high schools begin at 9 a.m. and get out at 4 p.m. and middle schools start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. Elementary school days would run from 8 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

The challenges with the first scenario were allowing enough time in students' days for athletics and other extra-curricular activities. It would however, save on transportation costs.

A second scenario offers a flexible schedule for high school students who participate in extra-curricular activities or athletics. One set of students would begin their day at 7:45 a.m. and end it at 2:45 p.m., while another group could choose to attend school from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

A major challenge that may result from the flex schedule would be transportation, as the district would not be able to provide busing for both high school start times. There was also concern with having staff on two separate schedules.

Once the survey results are collected and analyzed, Norton said Assistant Superintendent Jodi McClay will return to the board for a follow-up presentation. This is expected to occur sometime in the fall, Norton said.

To access the survey, click here.

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