“Because our students’ physical health, emotional well-being and academic success are our priorities, the district has decided to change school start times,” Bend La-Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson said in a press release. “Beginning in September 2019, elementary and secondary start times will essentially flip.”
District officials said a substantial body of research shows teenagers would biologically benefit from start times after 8:30am.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens tend to follow a later sleep-wake cycle, which means they're more often sleep deprived when they go to school early. In a report on later school start times, the NSF states: "Sleep deprivation impairs their ability to be alert, pay attention, solve problems, cope with stress and retain information."
The district said it made its decision after nearly two years of staff, student, parent and community engagement efforts, including a 20-member Start Time Advisory Committee and a public survey that received over 5,000 responses.
“After careful consideration of the information gathered by our start time committee, reviewing the literally thousands of comments that came in and from the information we learned at our 2018 Start Time Community Forum, we found that support for the change was consistent across all groups—including staff, students, parents and community members,” Mikalson said.
Mikalson said the district made the announcement at this time to give families, students and community members nearly a year to plan for next fall’s new start times.
“Changing school times is not a decision we made lightly,” he said. “Rather, this is a decision based on what we believe best serves our students today and into the future.”
The changes will inevitably come with adjustments to activity start and end times and changes to after-school care programs, as well as adjustments to school bus pickup and drop-off times—items that will certainly mean big changes for families within the Bend-La Pine Schools district.
"While I understand that it is really beneficial for the older kids to have more time in the morning to sleep and get ready for school, in my particular family it's going to be difficult because my girls sleep in late," said Jackie Vance, a parent of a child at Juniper Elementary School. "I also wonder how it will affect after-school activity schedules, especially for the older kids."