High School Start Times Advisory Committee
In February 2018, the Lawrence USD 497 Board of Education recommended a year of planning and fully engaging students, parents, and staff through surveys, meetings, and focus groups regarding changing the high school start times from 8:05 to 8:30 am to promote health and academic benefits for students associated with getting additional sleep.
In May 2018, it was determined a High School Advisory would be created, as a temporary committee pursuant to board policy BBC, to further investigate and discuss feedback from a broad cross-section of our school community. The committee will be in place for the 2018-2019 school year. The committee’s charge is to make a recommendation to our school board by January 2019 regarding implementation for 2019-20 school year. This group will meet 1-2 times per month and will be provided a virtual option to participate when members cannot attend.
On June 25, 2018, the board of education approved creating the High School Start Time Advisory Council as a temporary board committee pursuant to board policy BBC, with the duties and general membership as outlined. The committee consists of two board members, Deputy Superintendent, Director of Secondary Support, two high school building level administrators, 7-8 certified staff, 7 parents of children attending LPS, and one representative from District Site Council, Boys & Girls Club, DELTA, Equity Advisory Council, Special Education Parent Advisory Council and Student Advisory.
*Christina Holt, Associate Director, Center for Community Health and Development, Life Span Institute, University of Kansas is the lead faciltator for this commitee.
Recommendation to the USD 497 Lawrence Public Schools School Board (1/14/2018)
After six months of study and gathering input from focus groups and through surveys of students, parents, and staff, the school board’s High School Start Time Advisory Committee affirmed the benefits of later school starts times – that more sleep leads to positive effects on student attendance, academics, and health and wellbeing. It also found that most students and parents providing feedback prefer a later start time, while high school staff favor no change.
Survey results showed that 46% of high school students and 52% of middle school students favored later start times for school. While 51% of parents preferred later start times, 51% of high school staff members favored sticking with current start times: zero hour at 7 a.m. and school starts at 8:05 a.m.
The advisory committee recommended that the board establish another committee to discuss broader options. These include staggered start times, high school redesign, extended school year to enable a later start time without a later dismissal time, and the addition of high school seminar period. The committee recommended implementation in the fall of 2020.
Board president Jessica Beeson thanked the committee members for their work and suggested the board clarify in a motion for board approval that it intends to establish an implementation committee and develop a detailed plan for changing high school start times in August of 2020.
Board officers will meet with the superintendent and deputy superintendent to tweak the language of the committee’s recommendation and develop such a motion for the board’s consideration at its January 28 meeting.