New Guidelines Prompt Schools to Re-Think Start Time

By Chris Eidson

Published 08/25 2014 09:29PM

Updated 08/25 2014 10:18PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- High schools and middle schools should start no earlier than 8:30 in the morning, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Academy's doctors believe the typical teenager is not getting adequate sleep.

They recommend schools move the start time to later in the morning.

About 70 school districts across the country have moved back the start of school so the kids can get a little more sleep.

In Springfield it doesn't look like the time will be moving in the near future.

Bennett Sandwell hangs out at the Boys and Girls Club after school.

"I like to play basketball and play on the Xbox," he said.

He's a high school sophomore who says he isn't getting enough sleep and could benefit from a later start time in the morning.

"I usually don't go to sleep until like 11 because I'm finishing up my homework after being outside for a couple of hours," he said.

He attends Springfield Public Schools, which has an average start time compared to other districts in the U.S.

"We've been starting our secondary schools around the 8 o'clock hour for many, many years," Assoc. Superintendent for Secondary Education Justin Herrell said.

The average time in this country is 7:59 a-m.

Only 15 percent of schools meet the recommendation of starting at 8:30 or later.

"We have considered that in the past," Herrell said.

Herrell said it's logistical constraints that have prevented SPS from pushing back the start time.

"It could be as simple as the transportation issues themselves, like coordinating bus routes," he said, "In some situations we have older siblings taking care of younger siblings. There are issues with the affect of activities and athletics and those issues of after school programs."

Monday's statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics also included research that a later start time improves academic performance and can decrease driving accidents among teens.

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