Recommendation on school start times delayed until fall

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

A recommendation on whether to change start times in the Greencastle-Antrim School District will not be made until the release of a state study this fall.

A committee of community members, parents, teachers, administrators and students has been meeting since September to weigh information about whether it would be better for secondary students to begin school later.

A recommendation from the committee was on the agenda for the school board work session Thursday evening and Dr. Kendra Trail, superintendent, originally listed making a recommendation by April as one of her goals for the year.

However, Senate Resolution 417 passed in the 2017-18 session directed the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to study secondary school start times in the state, with the report due in September. It will include health, safety and educational issues, along with positives and negatives.

"Our official recommendation is to hold off until the report comes out in September," Trail said.

After the report is issued, the committee will reconvene and make a recommendation by October or November.

Two committee members, teacher Heidi Myers and parent Julie Koons, gave a presentation at Thursday's meeting on the committee's work and members' responses to six questions.

Myers said the committee had good attendance and everyone felt committed. Members reviewed research concerning adolescent sleep needs and listed pros and cons of starting later each time they met.

There was a lot of discussion at each meeting, as well as reflection on emails sent to:


Myers said some emails supported a later start time and others did not. Many contained personal stories about how the senders would be affected.

"We valued that because that's the kind of community we live in," Myers said.

Koons said the biggest negative seemed to be child care. She said she enjoyed hearing from superintendents in other districts where secondary school start times have been pushed back. Those superintendents were featured at one of two public information meetings held in relation to school start times.

 Committee responses to questions 

1. Should secondary schools begin later in response to the research?

Yes — 12

No — 6

2. Should secondary schools start no earlier than 8 a.m.?

Yes — 10

No — 8

3. Should elementary schools begin earlier than they do now?

Yes — 2

No — 15

4. Do you recommend waiting until the state report comes out?

Yes — 16

No — 2

5. Should start times remain as they are?

Yes — 9

No — 9

6. Pick an option:

Flip elementary and secondary start times — 2

Shift both to later — 16

After hearing the results, school board member Tracy Baer pointed out the final question could have included the option to make no change.