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Portsmouth Joins Several NH Towns in Changing High School Start Times

The Portsmouth, NH School Board recently voted to switch the high school’s start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., reported NHPRAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need about 9 hours of sleep per night. But changes in natural sleep patterns, poor sleeping habits, and other factors keep teens from getting the required amount of sleep.

Board members cited the growing evidence of adolescent sleep patterns for their decision:

“This is not about bad parenting. This is about the circadian rhythm. At my house, screen time ends at 9:30. My oldest is still up at midnight. Their body clock shifts at adolescence,” Ellis said. “It shifts back when they become adults. But during that window, they’re just naturally up later.”

Scientific research has suggested that teens naturally stay up later. The National Sleep Foundation cites studies that suggest that sleep patterns are both biological and societal. Changes in melatonin secretion during adolescence makes going to bed earlier more difficult. Academic, social, and other pressures–including sports, homework, and after-school jobs–can keep kids up late into the night.

The later start time will cost the district about $150,000 per year for buses, plus additional costs for bus monitors. In return, they’re hoping that students will be better rested.

Oyster River Cooperative School District, which includes Lee, Durham, and Madbury, also voted for later start times for their high school students. One member, Kenny Rotner, voted no:

“I was very supportive of a later start time and glad to see the school board voted in favor of that proposal,” he said Thursday. “I do think, however, there is much more we can do as a school district in addition to this change to greatly enhance education environment and mental health of our students.”

“Examples of this include a flexible scheduling of the day looking at the level of homework currently assigned and looking a the amount of testing we are currently doing,” Rotner continued, calling his no vote a statement intended to spur additional discussion on these issues.

Read the full article here. Let us know what you think about later school start times!

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