A memorandum dated Sept. 11, 2012, lists the Fiscal Year 2014 Board Operating Budget Interests. Among the Top 10 Priorities, I was impressed to note that the second item was this:
"Meet the needs of each individual child, including their health and social and emotional well-being"
This is exciting because it opens the door for Montgomery County's administration to consider changing the school start time to one that better reflects adolescent and teen sleep needs. The evidence that a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call for teenagers is dangerously out of sync with their sleep needs is more than clear. Parents, sleep scientists, educators, health-care providers and mental-health experts are calling for this change and we need to look seriously at the long and short-term impact on our kids' health.
Other issues like after-school jobs, bus schedules, sports practices can be accommodated and have been successfully adjusted in many other school districts. A very recent study takes a careful look at five years of data from the change to a later start time in Edina and Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is not an impossible challenge.
It is impossible to justify causing harm to a child's health and social and emotional well-being through inaction.
I'm inspired by the local school board and its willingness to make this a priority. The document further states: "These top 10 interests are to guide the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in the development of his Fiscal Year 2014 Operating Budget Recommendation."
Good luck to Superintendent Joshua Starr - we'll be watching and hoping that a healthy school start time is soon part of the plan for Montgomery County.
Start School Later is a volunteer national coalition. We are dedicated to increasing public awareness about the relationship between sleep and school hours and to ensuring school start times compatible with health, safety, education, and equity. Please visit our website to learn more at www.startschoollater.net. We would like to hear from you!