School start time meeting set Feb. 17

Shawn Hardy

Another information session on school start times is planned in the Greencastle-Antrim School District, with a recommendation expected in April.

Several speakers from Pennsylvania school districts that have implemented later start times for teens, along with a moderator, will be featured at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Greencastle-Antrim High School auditorium.

Whether the current start times are best for students was brought up several years ago, but nothing happened. The school board asked Dr. Kendra Trail, superintendent, to revisit the issue and determining whether the existing schedule is best was No. 1 on her list of four goals for the year outlined in August.

Currently, in G-A, high school and middle school start at 7:20 a.m. and the elementary and primary schools start at 8:15.

A committee of teachers, administrators, parents and students is reviewing information, including a survey of parents, students and teachers, and research on start times.

Gail Karafin, a licensed school psychologist in the Doylestown area and founder of Start School Later Pennsylvania, a chapter of a national nonprofit focused on educating and advocating for legislation "to ensure evidence-based school hours at the national, state and local level," was featured at an October meeting.

"Research has revealed that adolescents have a unique internal clock that acts as a form of delayed sleep phase disorder," Karafin said. "It's difficult for teens to fall asleep much before 11 p.m. and most teens need to wake up at 6 a.m. to arrive to school on time."

She said chronic sleep deprivation is associated with a number of cognitive, educational, emotional, physical, athletic, risk-taking, substance-abuse and safety problems.