To: Seattle School Board And Superintendent

Later Start Times for Secondary Students of Seattle

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Considerable research confirms the relationship between school start times, sleep deprivation, and student performance, truancy, and absenteeism, as well as depression, mood swings and impulse control. Mounting evidence about the biology of adolescent sleep, and about the impact of later start times, shows that starting school early not only undermines academic achievement but endangers health and safety. Data from later starting schools such as Nathan Hale High School corroborate national findings in demonstrating improvements in tardiness, absenteeism and performance. Saving money on transportation costs does not outweigh the damage done to the physiological and psychological functioning of middle and high school students. To improve the learning ability of students we call on the Seattle School Board and Seattle Public School District to schedule transportation and start times so that no middle or high school in our district start earlier than 8:30 am.

Why is this important?

Early start times jeopardize academic achievement, mental health and the safety of teens. The impact falls hardest on struggling students. Our late elementary start times are disadvantageous to many families. Due to financial constraints, the district will maintain a 3 tier bus system. Given that students will have to go to school early at some point in their school career, Seattle Start School Later supports the proposal to:
Maximize the number of students in sleep aligned start times,
Minimize schedule disruption,
Keep a cost neutral busing system
Elementary Schools (prioritizing Title 1 schools) 7:55 am (tier 1)
Middle and High Schools & Some Elem/ K-8’s 8:45 am (tier 2)
As few as possible, Elementary and K-8's 9:35 (tier 3)

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