School Board Weighs Later Start Time After Parents Say Kids 'Lack Energy' at 7:30 a.m. Bell

A Wayzata Public Schools study found that fifty percent of Wayzata parents say their teen “lacks energy” possibly due to early school start times. Teachers say kids learn better in the afternoon.

At a Jan. 28 meeting, Wayzata Public School board members reviewed a study that said more than half of Wayzata High School students have difficulties “waking up and getting moving” in the morning.

This lack of energy could be due to the school’s early start time.

According to school board documents, Wayzata High School’s 7:30 a.m. start is the earliest start time in the Lake Conference. Edina High School has a “0 hour” period from 7:30-8:25, which students can optionally attend. Minnetonka High School has the latest school start time in the conference with classes beginning at 8 a.m.

“One challenge that exists in modification to school start times is in accommodating for the busy lives of students and their families,” Superintendent Chace Anderson said in documents, noting that 75 percent of high school students are involved in after school activities. “School start times also have an impact on families and staff members with before/after school care needs and would further impact staff and the before/after school programs offered by the school district.”

Almost 3,000 high school parents responded to a Start Time Feedback Survey sent in October on behalf of the district. 

Of those 3,000, 61 percent said that their child “seems to lack energy.” Out of 265 high school employees who took the survey, 65 percent said that their students are more alert and ready to learn in the afternoon than in the morning.
Because of the district’s early start time, school board documents show that Wayzata High School students are only getting a maximum of 7 or 7.5 hours of sleep a night. The National Sleep Foundation reports that teens need a little more than 9 hours of sleep each night.

The district has not yet made changes to school start times. Next steps for the district include analyzing the survey information, considering research that shows connections between adolescent sleep patterns and start times and reviewing issues like transportation. 

Jules February 05, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Two things: Has Minnetonka issued the exact same start time survey? It would be interesting to see if 61% of teens on average lack energy in the morning for the district with the latest start time. That statistic means little without a baseline. Also, (and this is simply an observation) even with an 8am start time, leave for school at 7:30am, up at 6:30am... that would mean a teenager would have to go to bed at 9:30pm to get 9 hours of sleep, which seems a little unrealistic.
Clint E.R. February 05, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Edina has been doing this since 1996! Talk about asleep at the wheel. http://legacy.edina.k12.mn.us/news/reports/laterstart/index.html
Maribel Ibrahim February 05, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Sadly, even with the compelling evidence against early school start times and the large number of school districts, including the landmark success in Edina, MN, we still have students that have to compete with unsafe school start times. Not only does early school start times fight against the biologically documented shift in sleep cycles among teens, it is unsafe for any child to be out in pre-dawn hours, attempting to go to school. Health and safety must trump all other competing concerns, because this is not just a matter of preference or convenience. A national organization has been established to ensure that the health and safety of all public school students can be protected when determining school schedules. Visit them online here: www.StartSchoolLater.net You can also read up on the districts that have switched to later school start times here: http://www.startschoollater.net/success-stories.html
Clint E.R. February 07, 2013 at 04:50 AM
If Wayzata in all their brilliance can't figure out data from data that is nearly two decades old, they should not only be fired; fraud charges are in order. That is unless they can prove an insanity charge, which almost worked for the Lund family!


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