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Public Weighs In On Changing St. Paul School Starting Times

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – St. Paul Public Schools is considering a later start time for high school and middle school students.

“Studies have been shown that they have different sleep patterns than smaller children and adults, and they are better performers later on in the day,” Creative Arts High School teacher Lora Healam said.

A University of Minnesota study showed high school students who switched to a later start had improved attendance, better test scores, less tardiness and less depression symptoms.

The Edina Public School district was one of the first in the country to try the later time for secondary students in 1996.

“The impacts and benefits that other districts have seen with making this shift back with high school students is fairly common across the board,” St. Paul Public Schools policy and planning administrator Ryan Vernosh said.

Not everyone supports the idea. The pushed back start time would mean extra-curricular activities would also start later.

The change would also affect elementary school parents, as some elementary schools would have to start earlier to accommodate a shift in the district’s bus schedule.

“I don’t have daycare expenses right now. I can get home or my husband can get home,” elementary school parent Jodi Dressel said.  “I’m not sure that will happen if they’re out of school at 2 p.m.”

The later start time would push back middle and high schools to start at 8:30 a.m.

A final decision will be made in October. Any change in schedule would go into effect in fall 2015.

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