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Kids these days: Late to bed, early to rise

Officials not in favor of later start to school day

If school didn’t start until 8:30 a.m., students would be more awake in class, according to 12-year-old Ashley Vences.

“You would be more focused,” said Vences, a seventh-grader at Challand Middle School in Sterling. “You would not be so tired.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics this week recommended that middle and high schools delay the start of classes until 8:30 a.m. or later.

Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don’t get the recommended amount of sleep – 8.5 to 9.5 hours on school nights – and that most high school seniors get an average of less than 7 hours.

Tad Everett, superintendent of the Sterling School District, said students should not go to bed as late as many of them do on school nights.

“If kids went to bed 30 minutes earlier, there would be no need for us to start school 30 minutes later,” Everett said. “Kids could get more sleep if they went to bed earlier.”

Students at Sterling High School report to class at 8 a.m. – 30 minutes earlier than what the AAP suggests. Students at Challand Middle School start classes at 7:50 a.m.

“Most parents drop their kids off on their way to work,” Everett said. “This could potentially have a negative impact on a parent’s travel arrangements in the morning.”

Guadalupe Vences, 15, a sophomore at Sterling High School, also said a later start to the school day would mean more sleep.

“I’d probably go to bed at the same time,” she said. “You would just go to sleep like normal, and you won’t wake up as tired.”

Although the AAP released its recommendation on Monday, Ron McCord, principal at Rock Falls High School, said the debate about starting school later was nothing new.

“The research has been out there for years,” McCord said.

Students report to class at 7:50 a.m. at RFHS.

One issue McCord has with starting school later involves extracurricular activities, including sports.

A later dismissal could delay practices and games. The shift might also cut into time for homework and after-school jobs, McCord said.

“Baseball and softball are not played under the lights, so we have to start earlier in order to get the game in before dusk,” McCord said.

Dixon Superintendent Michael Juenger agreed with McCord that the issue of a later start is nothing new.

Classes in the Dixon School District start at 7:45 a.m. Juenger said schools could adapt to a later start time if the Dixon community and the district approved it.

“If it was the wish of the community and the district, a later start time could be made to work,” he said.

Everett said the Sterling School District was not looking to change the start of the school day. He also said if one building were to have a later start time, all buildings would have to change.

“You are impacting transportation, traffic flow and work schedules,” he said. “Before we make a decision that drastic, we would want to make sure we had input from stakeholders, teachers, parents and the community.” 

If the school district ever considers that, Ashley said she would approve.

“If we started later, you would actually want to get out of bed,” she said.

School start times

A look at start times for various high schools and middle schools in the Sauk Valley:

7:45 a.m.

• David L. Rahn Junior High School in Mount Morris

• Dixon High School

• Reagan Middle School in Dixon

7:50 a.m.

• Challand Middle School in Sterling

• Rock Falls High School

8 a.m.

• Bureau Valley Senior and Junior High Schools

• Erie High School

• Sterling High School

• West Carroll High School and Middle School

8:05 a.m.

• Fulton High School

• Oregon High School

• Rock Falls Middle School

• Tampico Middle School

8:07 a.m.

• River Bend Middle School

8:10 a.m.

• Amboy Junior High School

• Morrison High School and Junior School

8:15 a.m.

• Ashton-Franklin Center Middle School

8:18 a.m.

• Amboy High School

8:30 a.m.

• Ashton-Franklin Center High School

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