SLC School District proposes later high school start times

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - How would you like to sleep in an extra 15 - 75 minutes each morning?  Thousands of local high school students may soon be doing just that.       
 
It is all part of a Salt Lake City School District proposal to push back high school start times.  Officials are seeking community feedback and say the prospective change has huge potential to benefit students. 
 
"They have better health, they have fewer suicides... their test scores are higher if they sleep better, so we just feel like it's clear," said Katherine Kennedy, a SLC School Board member. 
 
Kennedy admits she does not have all the answers, but she has followed years' worth of research that shows high school students are better off with a little extra sleep.
 
"The evidence is across the board," she told Good 4 Utah's Ali Monsen. 
 
That is why the district is now exploring the idea of pushing back start times for East High, West High, and Highland High.
 
"Those are our three comprehensive high schools," Kennedy said. 
 
Of course, later start times would also mean later end times.  Currently, all three schools begin at 7:45 in the morning. 
 
"For my first period, it's math, and we're usually always quiet, and not everyone's fully awake at that time," said Luis Lopez, a West High School sophomore. 
 
"Nobody does anything.  I mean, we just don't feel inclined to do it.  We don't feel like we have the energy necessary," said Kasey Ferry, an East High School senior. 
 
Clearly, the kids do not need much convincing, but the potential change could have some negative implications as well, like cutting into after-school and sporting programs.  Some also argue that late-start students will simply go to bed later and end up with the same amount of sleep. 
 
"The studies show that that doesn't happen, that their bodies are set to go to sleep between 11:00 and 12:00..." Kennedy said.  "They'll continue to go to sleep then," she explained. 
 
Officials say they value community feedback and are asking students, parents, and administrators to take a seven-question survey.  You can vote for an 8:00, 8:30, and even 9:00 start time, or for no changes at all.
 
"We'll listen to them, we want to be responsive to what our population is telling us," Kennedy said. 
 
School board members say they plan on collecting surveys over the next several weeks. 
 

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