The Bellevue, Mercer Island and Northshore school districts, along with Seattle, are considering later high school start times.
The idea of starting school later to better suit teenagers’ biological sleep rhythms is getting traction not only in Seattle, but in the Bellevue, Mercer Island and Northshore districts as well.
Few quibble about the science. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high schools start class no earlier than 8:30 a.m., based on mounting evidence that chronic sleep loss compromises health, safety and learning.
But the complex logistics and politics of rearranging schedules has sunk past efforts, which means districts have to figure out whether it’s even a realistic goal.
All four districts have spent the last several months making sure that everyone who would be affected by new start times gets a chance to be heard.
The superintendents of the Bellevue and Mercer Island school districts joined forces to convene a joint committee to determine if it could work.
Last month, the committee recommended changing high school start times to 8:30 a.m.
Most Bellevue high schools now start at 7:30 a.m.
The Mercer Island district, which is building a new elementary school at the high school site, wants to delay the high school start time so it doesn’t conflict with the elementary school.
The Northshore school board voted in January that high school will start no sooner than 8 a.m. by the 2017- 18 school year in conjunction with the opening of North Creek High School.
In Seattle, a recommendation report from a task force is expected this week with a final school board vote in October.