Students, Parents, Faculty Divided On Later School Start Times

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), adolescents do not get enough sleep because of early school start times. The AAP recommends middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30am to give students the opportunity to get more sleep. Another study suggests later start times would also improve the health and safety of students as well as their academic success.

Johnston County Public Schools established a School Start Time Task Force last year to review and research the issue.   In November, the Task Force asked Johnston County  middle and high school students, parents and staff members what they thought about changing the start times.

A total of 7,292 middle and high school students, 6,222 parents and 2,623 staff members responded to the survey.

46 percent of students believe a later start time would have improved results, 43 percent said it would have negative results, while 11 percent said it would have no impact.

30 percent of parents who responded liked the later start time, while 51% felt it would be negative and 19% said it would have no impact.

45 percent of school staff believe a later start time would be positive, and 31% negative. 24% said it would have no impact in their opinion.

When asked specifically about later start times improving teen driver safety, the numbers changed. 55% of students, 44% of parents and 61% of school staff though it would have a positive influence.

When asked if they would support starting school at a later time, 51% of students, 48% of parents, and 68% of school employees said they would.

Broken down by high school, 57% of parents at Corinth Holder High, 47% at Clayton High, 49% at Smithfield Selma High, 35% at South Johnston High, 40% at North Johnston High, 32% at Princeton High, 51% at West Johnston, and 47% at Cleveland High said they would support the later start times.

As for students, 57% at Corinth Holders High, 53% at Clayton High, 42% at Smithfield Selma High, 39% at South Johnston, 46% at North Johnston, 46% at Princeton High, 56% at West Johnston and 55% at Cleveland High would support a later start time.

Currently, traditional high school instruction in Johnston County Schools begins between 7:15 and 7:30am and middle school instruction begins between 7:45 and 8:25am.

No action was taken by the school board on the presentation.

The National Sleep Foundation considers sleep deprivation a widespread chronic health problem for adolescents today.  Teens need an average of 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep per night for optimal performance, health and brain development, but average fewer than 7 hours per school night by the end of high school.

Many doctors consider sleep as important to good health and eating well and exercising.  When teens don’t get enough sleep they impair their ability to be alert, pay attention, solve problems, cope with stress and retain information, according to the National Sleep Foundation report.  It can also lead to drowsy driving, emotional and behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, poor impulse control and violence, health complaints, impaired cognitive function and decision making, and lower performance in everything from academics to athletics.