The Issaquah School District gave up on later start times for teens more than 10 years ago, but renewed parent demand is fueling another try.
Back in 2003, Issaquah schools debated pushing back school start times for teenagers.
That was the year that district launched a two-year study that looked into busing logistics, schedule conflicts and other complexities of changing the school day that have ripple effects throughout the community.
The final recommendation then? Make no changes.
A few years later, Seattle Public Schools tried too, but that effort also fizzled out.
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Much has changed since then. For one, the science supporting the idea is getting a broader audience, bolstered by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation last year that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later.
On Wednesday, persistence paid off for advocates in Seattle, when the school board voted to make that district one of the largest in the country to push back school start times so teens can get the sleep that scientists say they need.
Issaquah is giving the idea another shot, too.
“Mainly it’s coming from listening to our parents who are coming forward and community members have been bringing it up,” said a district spokeswoman.
The district will propose a high school day that begins at 9 .a.m (instead of 7:25 a.m.) and ends at 3:55 p.m. (instead of 2:16 p.m.).
Middle schools would start at 9:15 a.m. (instead of 7:40 a.m.) and end at 3:35 (instead of 2:05 p.m.).
Elementary schools — which now begin at either 8:30 or 9:55 a.m. — would begin at 8 a.m. and let out at 2:25 p.m. (instead of 2:55 p.m. or 3:40 p.m.).
The staggered start times would allow the district to keep running its buses on multiple trips each morning, which is less expensive than sending them out only once.
Parents, staff and community residents will get their chance to weigh in on the proposed new times in middle to late January.
The district hopes to make a decision in March and if the changes are approved then, they would take effect in fall 2016.
Bellevue, Lake Washington, Mercer Island and Northshore also are all starting to make or considering schedule changes so teens can get the sleep that scientists say they need.