ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula Area City School District had some of the earliest start times in the area with classes starting as early as 7 a.m.
That’s going to change in the coming school year.
Citing guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, Interim Superintendent Mark Potts said Friday start times will be later to better serve students and their families, as well as placing a strong focus on achievement.
“Fixing the start times is consistent with our goal of setting up our students for success and doing what is best for kids,” he said. “I am happy we will no longer be picking up students as early as 5:45 a.m. Our previous start times were absolutely contrary to decades of research and needed to be adjusted.”
The new start times are as follows:
• Michigan Primary, which will serve the Early Learning Center and kindergarten, will start at 8 a.m. and finish at 2:15 p.m.
• Huron Primary, which will serve first-grade students, will start at 8 a.m. and finish at 2:15 p.m.
• Ontario Primary, which will serve second-grade students, will start at 8 a.m. and finish at 2:15 p.m.
• Superior Intermediate, which will serve third and fourth graders, will start at 9:15 a.m. and be released at 3:45 p.m.
• Erie Intermediate, which will serve fifth- and sixth-grade students, will start at 9:15 a.m. and finish at 3:45 p.m.
• Lakeside Junior High School’s seventh- and eighth-grade students will start at 8:23 a.m. and be released at 2:53 p.m.
• Lakeside High School students will start at 8:30 a.m. and be released at 3 p.m.
Speaking on behalf of the primary school principals, Beckie Evanson, principal at Michigan Primary, said, “Our experience with our youngest students has shown these students are wide awake earlier and ready to start the day.”
Vinny Noce, who will be a first-grader come fall, said it will be great to start later.
“He’s not a morning person,” said his mother, Chrissy Noce.
According to guidelines published by the National Sleep Foundation recommend students in grades 3-6 get 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night.
“The later start will help accommodate those needs,” Potts said.
Students in this age group are growing and reach puberty during this time and need more sleep than
teenagers to optimize their alertness,
mood and behavior, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s findings.
As for junior high
and high school students, the American Medical Association adopted a policy that calls on school districts across the United States to implement start times no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
LHS student Abigail Mann, 16, cheered when she heard the news. She finds it difficult to go to fall asleep until 10 or 11 p.m., and then having to wake up before 6 a.m., she said.
“Now I can get enough sleep,” she said. “I will feel a lot better.”
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states teens who do not get sufficient sleep are more likely to be overweight, do not participate in physical activity, suffer from depression, engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking and they do poorly in school.
LHS Principal Don Rapose said it’s exciting to see data and research being used as the driving force for positive change.
“Multiple studies support the later start times for teenagers,” he said. “I believe the outcome of these changes will be positive growth in student achievement.”
Potts said he’s excited administrators were able to look at the research and come up with start times that will benefit students.
“It will benefit our students, not just academically, but will also be benefitial to their health, safety and well-being,” Potts said. “The start times stay true to our mission of focusing on doing what’s best for kids.”
Scott Anservitz, principal at LJHS, said with all the research out there about students’ needs, the new start times make sense.