Majority of school board members favor starting high school later
CONTACT: Al Marlin
Nearly six in 10 school board members recently polled by the New York State School Boards Association think the high school instructional day in their districts should begin later to accommodate teenagers’ natural sleep cycles. They also acknowledge there would be logistical challenges in doing so.
The poll found that 59% of board members would be favor of pushing back the start of the high school instructional day, while 28.5% said they were not. About 12.5% were not sure.
A little more than half of poll respondents said sleep deprivation among high school students in their district was a significant problem. A growing body of research has determined that there is a shift in sleep patterns starting in adolescence which causes most teenagers to naturally fall asleep around 11 p.m. or later, and that pushing the start of school back would still allow them to get between 8½ and 9½ hours of sleep each night.
The idea of starting high school later is already being practiced in some school districts across New York. According to data from a group called Start School Later – New York, 42 high schools around the state start their instructional day at 8:15 a.m. or later; 20 start the instructional day at 8:30 a.m. or later.
Moving back the start of high school would not be without challenges, however, according to NYSSBA’s poll.
Eighty-two percent of survey respondents identified interscholastic sporting events as the main logistical challenge of moving the start of school to a later time. Many high school sporting events are scheduled for mid-afternoon, and moving the start of school would bump up against those events. Seven in 10 board members or more also identified afterschool activities (77%) and school bus pick-up schedules (70%) as other hurdles to moving back high school start times.
Poll results are based on a random sample of 378 school board members surveyed between September 24, 2019 and October 1, 2019. The poll has a margin of error of +/-4.8 percent and a confidence interval of 95 percent.