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Schedule changes based in research

Cindy Ramunno

Administrators decided to make changes to start and end the school day of at local elementary and secondary schools to better reflect that research.

The new schedule shows that, starting this fall, all district elementary schools will start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m., with middle and high schools beginning at 8:15 a.m. and ending 3:30 p.m.

Research shows that later times are more beneficial for middle- and high-school students, but the district wanted to compromise.

“We didn’t want secondary schools ending too late, because that would negatively affect kids with after-school jobs or those involved in extracurricular activities,” explains Assistant Superintendent John Brendza.

The new schedule, officials says, provides continuity and fewer headaches for community activities. For example, the Western County Metropolitan Recreation District combines students from different schools, and volunteer coaches will have a better handle on times for practices and games with the elementary students all getting out at the same time.

Research also shows adolescent sleep patterns can have profound consequences on their education. Natural cycles for adolescent sleep is late-to-bed, late-to rise cycle. Medical researchers have found this cycle is part of the maturation of the endocrine system. From the onset of puberty until late teen years, the brain chemical melatonin, which is responsible for sleepiness, is secreted from approximately 11 p.m. until approximately 8 a.m. This secretion is based on human circadian rhythms and is rather fixed. In other words, typical youth are not able to fall asleep much before 11 p.m. and their brains tend to remain in sleep mode until about 8 a.m., regardless of what time they go to bed.

And then there are the little guys and gals who typically go to bed and get up earlier.

“We’ve had ongoing conversations around schedules and what’s best for kids,” says Brendza. “We want to provide the best opportunities for kids to learn, provide key times for teacher training. And we want to make the most minimal impact on parent schedules.”

For more information on schedules for the 2003-04 school year, call 328-6321.


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