Anne Arundel County to shift school start times

school startAnne Arundel County schools will start about 15 minutes later next school year.

The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County has approved the shift in school start and dismissal times for the 2017-2018 school year, endorsing a plan that will start high schools at 7:30 a.m. instead of the current 7:17 a.m. The plan, approved by a 6-2 vote, calls for elementary, middle, and special schools to start 15 minutes later than they begin in the current year. Dismissal times would also shift by the same amounts.

A national organization started by advocates in Maryland, StartSchoolLater.net, has lobbied to move the start time of schools for several years arguing it is better for students. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement two years ago recommending that middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later. Doing so would align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty, the statement said.

In a press release, the Anne Arundel County chapter of Start School Later said it was pleased with the decision.

"The decision by the AACPS Board of Education is the district's first concrete step toward school hours that reflect the evidence-based recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many other experts in children’s health, safety and education," the organization said in the press release. "Start School Later Anne Arundel County is hopeful that the AACPS Board of Education will plan a second adjustment in start times for the 2018-2019 school year and we look forward to continuing this discussion with them. A second modification is necessary to move middle and high schools even closer to the recommendations of the AAP, AMA and CDC that adolescents start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m."

The shift in Anne Arundel will require the purchase of 10 additional buses, and will cost approximately $618,000, which was included within the FY2016 approved Operating Budget.

The changes do not necessary alter start and dismissal times at Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School, Monarch Academy Public Charter School, and Monarch Global Contract School. Those schools are responsible for their own transportation arrangements and therefore can establish their own start and dismissal times.

A complete list of new start and dismissal times for all schools in the county will be published later this year.

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