School start times in Hampton still topic of debate

Friday, September 20, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Possible recommendations on when and how to adjust the start of the school day for Hampton students is planned for November, according to Gail Litwiler, school board member and member of the School Start Time Committee.

Litwiler provided the status of the group’s work at the September school board voting meeting.

A look into moving the start time for students has been studied since last year by a special school committee made up of school board members, administrators, parents, and key community members, according to Dr. Michael Loughead, superintendent for HTSD.

He said it was important to have a “representative group, not just administrators.”

Insufficient sleep has shown to have adverse effects on students, including health, safety, and academic performance, according to the committee’s research. This mostly affects high school students who have the earliest start time and physically and mentally need the most sleep, according to their research.

Hampton high school’s day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:19 p.m., middle school from 7:55 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and elementary schools 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Litwiler said the work has been a challenging task, with many factors to consider.

“The committee has been working very hard,” Litwiler said. “There are so many facets. This wasn’t easy.”

Several scenarios are being explored, according to a presentation in May. The first option includes the elementary day from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and high and middle schools days running 8:30 to 3:19 p.m. Second denotes middle and high school days from 8:30 a.m. to 3:19 p.m. and elementary 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Third is middle at 7:55 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., high school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:19 p.m., and elementary school from 9:10 a.m. to 3:55 p.m.

Several concerns and impacts that need to be considered include competing schedules with A.W. Beattie Career Center, extracurricular and after school activities, athletic practices and competitions, child care, and shifting of the elementary day and the employee work day, according to Litwiler and the earlier presentation.

Committee members noted support for a later start time for high school students from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and American Medical Association.