Sleepy teens in Montgomery: Meeting to seek comment on later high school start times

The first community meeting on a new proposal to shift high school schedules in Montgomery County -- to give teenagers more time to sleep -- has been set for Oct. 28 at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.

School officials are asking for comment on a proposal made Oct. 1 by Superintendent Joshua P. Starr to rearrange school schedules so that the opening bells at the county’s 25 high schools ring at 8:15 a.m., 50 minutes later than they do now.

With high school classes in Montgomery now starting at 7:25 a.m., supporters of later start times say teenagers are sleep-deprived, dozing off in morning classes and at greater risk of such problems as depression, obesity and car crashes.

Critics raise concerns about the cost of changing schedules and effects on after-school activities, teen jobs, family child-care arrangements and high school athletics.

Starr’s proposal would affect students in all grade levels. Middle schoolers would start classes at 7:45 a.m., 10 minutes earlier than they do now, and elementary school children would see their school days last 30 minutes longer in the afternoons.

Starr has said Montgomery’s youngest students have one of the shortest school days in the state.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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