Change Pinellas County High School Start Times to 8:30 a.m.

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    For the health, safety, and academic success of our students and to reduce costs, high school start times must be changed from 7:05 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

     National organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Society, and the CDC, are urging school districts to start middle and high school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to align with teenagers’ natural sleep cycles. These cycles shift in puberty and make it difficult for teenagers to fall asleep before 11 p.m.  Requiring them to wake up before 6 a.m. to catch a bus at 6:30 a.m. (or earlier), leaves them chronically sleep deprived during a period of intense growth and development. 

     School Districts that have changed to later school start times have realized dramatic, positive outcomes that include:

     Starting school at 7:05 a.m. is having a serious, negative impact on the physical and mental health of our students

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging school districts to start high school and middle school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to “allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8.5–9.5 hours) and to improve physical (e.g. reduced obesity risk) and mental (e.g. lower rates of depression) health, safety (e.g. drowsy driving crashes), academic performance, and quality of life.” (emphasis added) Am. Academy of Pediatrics 2014
  • In 2016, the American Medical Society issued a policy that strongly supported starting middle and high school no earlier than 8:30. In it they state that [s]tudies have found that sleep deprivation may result in hypertension, metabolic disorders (including diabetes) and impaired immune function."  They also state that "unhealthy body mass index is directly related to sleep, and those with shorter sleep durations are more likely to be underweight, overweight or obese.” (emphasis added) Am. Medical Assoc. 2016
  • As far back as  2011, "the CDC found that insufficient sleep for teens, which was described as less than eight hours on average a night, was associated with cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use, sexual activity, not getting enough exercise, feeling sad or hopeless, and seriously considering attempting suicide." CNN 2016  

     Starting school later can reduce costs over time and is the fiscally responsible approach to managing our budget

  • The Brookings Institute estimates that moving school start time later provides a 9:1 benefit to cost ratio for high schools.  "Short-term cost savings by school districts with early school start times are likely undone by higher longer-term costs, including lower academic performance, lost wages, higher rates of crime, more motor vehicle accidents and increased rates of obesity and associated health complications.”
  • A 2017 RAND Corp. study found that "significant economic gains result[ed] from the delay in school start times over a relatively short period of time following the adoption of the policy change."

    Districts across the U.S., including Hillsborough, have reviewed the research regarding sleep deprivation and shifted their start times to 8:30. Don't let Pinellas County students fall behind!