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  • We make this presentation on behalf of many families. We are not disagreeing with those who have pointed out the benefits of a later school start times for teenagers to allow for extra sleep. We are not disagreeing with those who have pointed out the circadian phase delay of adolescent sleep. We are not opposing a later high school start time. Certainly, those opinions and voices have been heard. Efforts to accommodate the sleep needs of high school students, however, should not require that the Alden students bear the burden of this change.
  • The focus of this presentation is on the range of negative impacts that would follow from imposing a 7:30 am start time on Alden students. To date, this information has been overlooked, unknown, or at the very least under-represented to the School Committee.
5 significant considerations
5 Significant Considerations
  • Student and Family Life
  • The Science of Sleep in Elementary Age Students
  • What We Can Learn From Other Districts
  • Evaluation and Consideration of the Community
  • Where Do We Go/Solutions
7 30 start time the morning reality
7:30 Start TimeThe Morning Reality

First Student, Duxbury’s bus service provider, generated a “Transportation Bell Schedule Analysis” detailing route, pick-up, and drop-off time options for adjusting school start times.

Based upon the data they provided to the Duxbury Public School system (Jan 5, 2009), and the assumption that a 7:30 start time requires debussing by 7:15:

  • According to this First Student report:
  • “Current total operating times are very short and cannot be materially reduced further”
  • “Alden students would be picked up in the dark much of the school year”
duxbury sunrise 2009 2010
Duxbury Sunrise 2009-2010

Alden students waiting for bus before dawn

87 of 180 days Alden students will be waiting for the bus in the dark

hazard of waiting for the bus in the dark
Hazard of Waiting for the Bus in the Dark
  • Mesa County Valley School District 51, Mesa, CO
  • Implemented school start time change similar to Duxbury’s proposal
  • Tragically, during test of new start times, 2 students killed while waiting for morning bus in the dark
  • Immediately reversed start time change
7 30am start time bedtime reality
7:30am Start TimeBEDTIME REALITY
  • Children aged 5 - 12 need 10 -11 hours of sleep. (National Sleep Foundation, Children and Sleep,
  • Assuming a wake-up time of approximately 6 am, Alden children would need to be asleep between 7 and 8 pm
  • Is this feasible?
      • Many parents consider this an unreasonable bedtime for 8-11 year olds, who would be required to be asleep before their younger Chandler siblings.
      • Many after-school activities involve the participation of working parents, and therefore begin at 6pm or later and end at 8pm or later. These include but are not limited to:
        • Community sports: Softball, Baseball, Pop Warner, Youth Football, Rec. Dept. Basketball , Lacrosse
        • School-sponsored events: DEF spelling bee, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader, Battle of the Books
      • Decreased time for family dinners
      • Time with working parents will be reduced or eliminated

While it may be possible for individual families to decide to try to achieve such early bedtimes, it is unfair and unreasonable for town government to make policies that require all families to adopt such habits and limit chosen extra-curricular activities.

other safety and child care issues
Other Safety and Child Care Issues
  • For some families, younger siblings of Alden students will need to be awakened in the morning to go to the bus stop.
  • The high school/elementary start time flip reverses the order children arrive home in the afternoon and, therefore eliminates afternoon high school and middle school babysitters. Inevitably this will lead to an increase in 3-5th graders who are home alone after school.
  • Or the alternative, working Alden parents who are not able to meet their child’s afternoon bus will be required to arrange for after school care privately or, as the administration has offered to facilitate, students could participate in organized after school activities sponsored by the Recreation Dept., Before & After Dark or the Student Union.
  • However, as noted on a recent school survey sent home to parents, “most after school programs will require a fee.”
  • If parents need to send their child to an after school activity as a childcare option how will the child get home? Parents would need to arrange for private transportation or, as it has been suggested by the administration, Alden children could walk from their activity back to either the high school or middle school, find the appropriate bus or caregiver, and ride the bus home with the high school students. Imagine the logistics and safety issues.
  • Are these reasonable expectations for a 3rd grader?

Scientific evidence addressing the potential impact of early start times on elementary school-aged children

scientific evidence background
Scientific evidence:Background
  • Extensive research has documented that as children move through puberty, their evolving physiology includes changes that produce a tendency to fall asleep and awaken later than they did when they were younger. This phenomenon (circadian phase delay) makes high school-aged students poorly suited for their traditional early start times, and is among the strongest reasons for changing high school start times.
  • However, is there evidence that elementary school children are better adapted to early start times than older children? When beginning to consider this question, it seems obvious, but nonetheless important to state, that the evidence showing that one group (high school students) is poorly-adapted to early start times is NOT evidence that another group (elementary school students) is well-adapted. Thus, prior to implementing advancement of the Alden start times, it is important to consider carefully the scientific evidence addressing the potential impacts of early start times on elementary school students.

Sleep deprivation and elementary school age children:

What the experts say:

  • Dr. Kenneth Sassower, A veteran sleep neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital: “There\'s little research to support the idea of starting younger children at school as early as 7:30 a.m., as has been voted on in Duxbury. ’I don\'t know that I would advocate for that,’ Sassower said. ‘I don\'t know that there is a lot of data to show advancing the curriculum hour is more beneficial than delaying the curriculum for high school students. . . . There is less data with regard to elementary school children with earlier times, but they may be able to function better than the high school students would. But I can see why parents would be perturbed - so much of going to bed and waking up is sort of a pattern. The more you\'re in a pattern, the better it is.” (Boston Globe, March 29, 2009)
  • Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school. (National Sleep Foundation, Children and Sleep,
  • 2/3 American children age 10 and under have sleep problems. “School-age children who do not get enough sleep may see their grades drop. A child who is not getting enough sleep may have a shorter attention span, difficulty learning and an inability to concentrate. He or she may also miss more school because of illness.” (Lynn D’Andrea, MD, medical director or Pulmonary Services at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin) In addition, research has linked lack of sleep to physical inactivity, weight gain and other risky behaviors such as use of alcohol and tobacco. (Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Sleep Deprivation has Serious Consequences for Children, Mar 6, 2008,

Sleep deprivation and elementary school age children:

More of what the experts say:

  • “Extrinsic sleep disorders are strongly associated with behavior problems such as hyperactivity or psychological symptoms.”(World Health Organization, WHO Technical Meeting on Sleep and Health, Bonn Germany, 22-24 January 2004)
  • Sleep-disturbed elementary school-age children may have poorer coping behaviors and display more behavioral problems at home and in school.(Michael Breus, Reviewed by Stuart Meyers, Back to School, Back to Sleep, Sept. 2 2004,
  • “A major issue is that children who have experienced prolonged sleep disruption during a period traditionally associated with major brain growth and substantial acquisition of cognitive and intellectual capabilities may suffer from partially irreversible damage, compromising their potential for academic achievement” (World Health Organization, WHO Technical Meeting on Sleep and Health, Bonn Germany, 22-24 January 2004)
  • Commenting on children aged 10 and under, “While younger children don’t experience the teen’s phase delay, they too, suffer signs of sleep deprivation” - Richard L. Gelula, National Sleep Foundation CEO (National Sleep Foundation Urges Parents to Include Enough Time for Sleep in New School Year Schedule, Press Release Aug. 16, 2005)
  • “Health care providers often assume that grade-school youngsters get adequate sleep and that by and large any of their sleep troubles don’t have an impact on their school performance, but that is not the case.” - Judith Owens, MD Brown University (Spotting Sleepy, Dopey and Grumpy, Brown University News Service February 11, 2000)
scientific evidence specific issues
Scientific evidence:Specific issues

Beyond the comment of sleep experts, however, we will present scientific evidence relevant to this question. This information can be broken into the following categories:

  • Reasons why, despite their circadian rhythms, elementary school children may not get adequate sleep with early start times.
  • Detrimental effects of sleep deprivation in elementary school aged children. Areas to consider include:
    • Poor cognitive performance
    • Interactions between sleep and behavior, temperament, and mood
    • General health implications
    • Unique implications for special education students

Scientific evidence:Reasons why, despite their circadian rhythms, elementary school children may not get adequate sleep with early start times:

  • Younger children need more sleep:
    • Children aged 5-12 require 10-11 hours of sleep, as opposed to 8.5-9.25 for high school students (National Sleep Foundation). Thus, despite their circadian phase, elementary school children, requiring up to 2 hours more nightly sleep than their high school counterparts, may be unable to get the recommended amount of sleep if required to awaken ~6am.
    • The determination as to whether a specific school start time realistically accommodates the increased sleep needs of Alden students requires detailed consideration of the specific start time, bus route times, required awakening time and, by extension, required bedtimes.

Scientific evidence:Reasons why, despite their circadian rhythms, elementary school children may not get adequate sleep with early start times:

  • Evidence tells us that, on average, children in this age group are already sleep deprived:
    • The 2004 Sleep in America Poll, commissioned by the National Sleep Foundation, found that children in grades 1 through 5 averaged up to 1.5 fewer hours of nightly sleep than is recommended.
    • A survey of 199 5th graders reported that the majority experience regular sleep loss and feel drowsy during the day (Amschler DH and McKenzie JF, Journal of School Health, Feb 2005; 50).
    • A survey of 3045 children aged 6-13 in a general European population found that disorders of excessive somnolence were highly prevalent in this group (Spruyt K, et al, J Sleep Res. 2005:163)

Thus, available evidence suggests that sleep deprivation in this age group is already common in western societies. This situation exists despite parents, presumably, already doing their best to optimize their children’s sleep. In this context, the additional challenge of earlier awakening seems very likely to exacerbate the existing problem.


Scientific evidence:Reasons why, despite their circadian rhythms, elementary school children may not get adequate sleep with early start times:

  • Factors, other than circadian phase, may affect the quality and duration of sleep in elementary school children, potentially increasing their vulnerability to early start times:
    • Sleep problems in this age group include a mix of physiologic and behavioral abnormalities, including but limited to:
      • Sleep-disordered breathing (e.g., excessive snoring, sleep apnea - these conditions are most commonly attributed to enlarged adenoids or tonsils).
      • Sleep-time anxiety
      • Parasomnias - these include a variety of disorders that involve partial arousals and sleep disruption (e.g., confusional arousals, sleepwalking, teeth grinding, limb movement disorders).
    • Such problems affect up to 25-40% of elementary school children - supporting the premise that while the nature of the sleep challenges in elementary and high school students are different, the magnitude may be similar.
  • Hiscock, H. Pediatrics and Child Health; May 2008;250.
  • Meltzer and Mindell, Sleep Medicine Clinics; June, 2008; 269.
  • Owens, J, Prim Care; Sep 2008; 533.
  • Owens, J, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; Feb, 2008; 27.
  • Blader, JC et al. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine; May 1997.
scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students

The above evidence brings into question the premise that Alden students are better able to accommodate early start times than their high school counterparts. More specifically, it raises the concern that the advancement of Alden start times will put these students at risk for sleep deprivation.

What then, does available evidence tell us about the potential impact of sleep deprivation on students of this age?

scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students1
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students

Sleep deprivation and poor cognitive performance:

  • In a series of 1000 children in the 3rd-5th grades, children with a history of poor sleep had a statistically significant increase in the incidence of poor academic performance. (Kahn A, et al. Pediatrics; Sep 1989: 53).
  • In a randomized trial of children aged 6 to 12, sleep deprivation resulted in lower scores in teacher-assessed academic performance, including:
    • Quality of the child’s work
    • Percent of work completed
    • Pace of learning
    • Difficulty in recalling material
    • Carelessness and hastiness of school work

(Fallone G, et al, Sleep 2005: 1561).

  • In a series of 132 3rd-5th graders, those with sleep difficulties were significantly more likely than those without to have failed at least one year of school. (Taras H and Potts-Datema W, J Sch Health. 2005:248).
scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students2
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students

Sleep deprivation and poor cognitive performance:

“The effects of sleep restriction and extension on school-age children: what a difference an hour makes.” (Sadeh A et al, Child Dev 2003:444)

  • The impact of modest but sustained sleep duration modification was evaluated in a trial of 77 children aged 9 to 12, in which some children had their sleep time reduced chronically (by an average of 41 minutes/night), while the other group had their sleep time extended (by an average of 35 minutes/night).
  • Neurobehavioral function tests were administered at baseline and after several nights of sleep modification. Sleep reduction was associated with statistically significantly poorer performance on:
    • Simple reaction time tasks
    • Continuous performance test (assessing sustained attention)
    • Working memory tasks

These results suggest that moderate but accumulated sleep loss may have significant effects on children’s cognitive performance, particularly in more complex neurobehavioral domains. (Sadeh A. Sleep Med Clin. 2007:513)

scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students3
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students

Impact on daytime sleepiness and attentiveness in the classroom:

  • In a direct comparison between elementary schools with start times of 7:45am and 8:25am, students at the school with the earlier start time reported more daytime sleepiness. (Spaulding N et al. Sleep. 2005: A78).
  • In another direct assessment of the impact of different elementary school start times on sleep patterns and behaviors, 232 5th grade students who started at 7:10 am were compared to 340 counterparts at other schools who started at 8am. (Epstein R et al. Sleep. 1998:250)The early risers:
    • Complained significantly more about daytime sleepiness and fatigue
    • Reported more difficulties concentrating in school
  • In the randomized trial mentioned above, sleep deprivation was also associated with worse scores on teacher assessments of attentiveness (Fallone G, et al. Sleep 2005: 1561).
scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students4
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students

Associations between sleep patterns and behavioral problems (e.g., attention deficit, hyperactivity, impulsivity and conduct problems) in this age group have been widely reported. The interactions between sleep and behavior are complex. Whether sleep patterns are a cause or consequence of such disorders is unclear. It is likely that bidirectional relationships exist, and that the dynamics of sleep and behavior regulation are interwoven and interdependent. (Sadeh A. Sleep Med Clin. 2007:513)

It is reasonable, therefore, to be concerned that a policy that reduces the total amount of sleep could exacerbate these problems.

scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation on elementary school students
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation on elementary school students

Evidence supporting links between sleep and behavior, temperament, and mood includes the following:

  • In a survey of 779 families of children aged 6-11, sleep problems were strongly associated with hyperactivity and conduct problems, particularly in boys. (Carvalho Bos S, et al. Sleep Med. 2009:66).
  • In a study of 1180 children aged 8 to 10, those with sleep disorders had significantly worse scores on a standardized test of emotional indicators of impulsivity. (Carvalho et al, Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2005:761)
  • In a series of children aged 7 to 12, clinical anxiety was associated with a pattern of less nightly sleep. (Hudson JL, et al. Behav Res Ther. 2009 ePub ahead of print).
  • A number of studies have documented strong associations between attention deficit disorders and sleep problems (Marcotte AC, et al, J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1998:178; Urscitz MS, et al. Pediatrics. 2004:1041, Owens J, et al. Pediatrics. 1998; 1178, Sung V, et al, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008:336). This issue is addressed again later in the section on special education.
scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students5
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students

A number of large studies have consistently demonstrated a strong association between reduced sleep and the risk of obesity in children aged 5 to 12.

  • Among children in this age group, the risk of obesity is independent of other obesity risk factors (e.g., television viewing, sedentary habits). The risk of obesity increases as much as 40% for each hour reduction in nightly sleep.
  • The link between sleep deprivation and obesity may be related to hormonal fluctuations produced by sleep deprivation, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, elevated sympathovagal balance, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite, all of which have been documented in both children and adults.

Nixon GM, et al. Sleep. 2008:71

Ievers-Landis CE et al, J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2008:243

Lumeng JC, et al. Pediatrics 2007:1020

Van Cauter E and Knutson KL, Eur J Endocrinol. 2008:S59

scientific evidence potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students6
Scientific evidence:Potential impacts of sleep deprivation in elementary school students
  • In one 30-year study of the long-term impacts of childhood sleep, the increased risk of childhood obesity persisted into adulthood. (Landhuis CE, et al. Pediatrics. 2008:955).
    • 1037 children were followed for 32 years, with assessments of sleep time at ages 5, 7, 9, and 11
    • Shorter childhood sleep times were significantly associated with obesity in adulthood
    • This association remained after controlling for other factors, including adult sleep times, adult physical activity levels, television viewing and smoking.

Childhood sleep deprivation and an increased lifetime risk of obesity:

sleep and special education students
Sleep and special education students

Sleep-related issues are of unique complexity and importance for special education students. These students are both more likely to experience and more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of sleep problems.

  • An increased incidence of sleep problems has been reported in a number of disorders.
  • Poor sleep can exacerbate these conditions and also create additional social, behavioral, and academic problems for these students.
sleep and special education students1
Sleep and special education students
  • Conditions that have been associated with an increased incidence of sleep disorders:
    • ADHD 25-50%
    • Autism spectrum disorders 49-89%
    • Intellectual disabilities 34-86%

(e.g., Down syndrome)

Stores G and Wiggs L (Eds) (2001) Sleep Disturbance in Disorders of Development: Its Significance and Management. MacKeith Press: London

Couturier JL et al, J am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatr. 2005:815

Marcotte AC, et al, J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1998:178

Urscitz MS, et al. Pediatrics. 2004:1041

Owens J, et al. Pediatrics. 1998; 1178.

sleep and special education students2
Sleep and special education students

In the special education population, poor sleep can not only exacerbate the underlying condition, but also create additional social, behavioral, and academic problems for these students.

  • In a series of 239 children with ADHD (average age 12), sleep problems were present in 73%. In this population, and poor sleep was strongly associated with poorer quality of life, impaired daily functioning, and poor school attendance. (Sung V, et al, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008:336).
  • In a series of patients with Down syndrome, sleep problems were common and these problems were associated with a increased incidence of behavior disturbance. (Stores, R, Down Syndrome Research and Practice. 1993:29)
special education and the current proposal
Special Education and the current proposal
  • There was no SEPAC representation on start time Feasibility Committee.
  • There were no SpEd staff members on start time Feasibility Committee.
  • Alden Grade 3-5, Special Education Subgroup, Not Making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in English Language Arts and Mathematics (MCAS 2008).
  • There is a parental right to modify start/end times of school day. (International Dyslexia Assoc.)
  • There is likely to be additional district costs for SpEd modifications and transportation.
just put them to bed earlier

“Just put them to bed earlier”

In response to the common concern that a 7:30 am start time is unreasonable for Alden students, we have heard the standard reply:

  • Given the previously presented evidence regarding:
  • The Morning Reality of a 6:00 am or earlier wake-up time
  • The Bedtime Reality of getting children to sleep between 7- 8pm
  • The scientific evidence demonstrating the challenges involved in getting adequate sleep even on current schedules…
  • The likelihood that the community as a whole can make this transition successfully should be questioned. As previously stated, while it may be possible for individual families to decide to try to achieve such early bedtimes, it is unfair and unreasonable for town government to make policies that require all families to adopt such habits.
  • However, in addition to our theoretical skepticism, we have the opportunity to examine the real-world experiences of other communities that have dealt with this issue.
what s happening in ma
What’s Happening in MA

Those who changed maintained an 8:15 or later start time for elementary schools

  • Holyoke - Changed
    • HS 8:15 – 2:52; MS 8:15; Elementary 9:05 and 8:15
  • Lynnfield - Changed
    • HS 8:00; MS 7:50; Elementary 8:30 and 9:00
  • Hingham Changed
    • HS 8:00; MS 7:30; Elementary 8:20 and 8:50
  • Needham - Changed
    • HS 8:00; MS 7:50; Elementary 8:35, 9:00

Those who did not change cited impact on elementary students, cost and athletics

  • Bedford – No Change
    • 2005 Task Force later start time would benefit HSMS
    • Unwilling to burden elementary students with early start time can’t increase cost
  • Wayland – No Change
    • 2004 Task Force recommends further research to achieve change
    • No change recommended due to busing and scheduling athletics
  • Shrewsbury – No Change
    • 2004 Recommendation to change High School Start time to 8:00 – rejected
    • Unwilling to have elementary students waiting for bus in dark
    • Scheduling athletic events with other towns
    • Incur additional cost from bussing
  • Canton – No Change
    • 2008 Subcommittee recommends no change despite benefit to HS students
    • Young children’s sleep requirements and waiting for bus in dark
    • Scheduling of athletic events
what s happening nationally same trend
What’s Happening Nationally: Same Trend
  • Arlington, VA - Changed
    • 2001 – Middle School and High School flipped
    • No early start time for elementary students due to safety concerns
    • All School start between 7:50 and 9:00
  • Hermiston, OR - Changed
    • Changed start times for 2008-2009 school year
    • Elementary 8:00; MS 8:30; HS 8:25
  • Hudson, OH – Changed
    • Voting this month
    • Proposal on table: HS 8:00 Elementary 9:20
  • McKinney, TX - Changed
    • MS 7:45; Elementary 8:30; HS 9:00
what s happening nationally same trend1
What’s Happening Nationally: Same Trend
  • Wake County, NC – No Change
    • 2004 looked at high schools flipping with elementary schools start time
    • Rejected due to elementary parents objections to early start time
  • Medina, OH – No Change
    • Terri Noe, Head of Start Time Committee was highly in favor of later HS start time
    • Conducted 3 years of research and community
    • Recommended no change because “Concerns of the community far outweighed any support for a change in school start times”
  • Albuquerque, NM – No Change
    • Voted not to change start times due to increase in transportation costs
  • Manzano, NM – No Change
    • Voted not to change start time due to increase in transportation costs
  • Norfolk, VA – No Change
    • Task force recommended no change to start times
  • Annearundel, MD – No Change
what s happening nationally fairfax va
What’s Happening Nationally: Fairfax, VA
  • One of the largest school districts in the country
  • Studied delayed start times for 20 years
  • Completed detailed Minority Position Report delineating potential adverse consequences including the negative impact on elementary school children
  • School Board voted on March 20, 2009 NOT to change the high school start times despite the recommendation of the Task Force due to the negative consequences associated with the implementation of the proposal.
  • Sandy Evans, co-founder of SLEEP (Start Later For Excellence In Educational Proposal), one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for delayed high school start times, stated that the Fairfax proposal involved too many shifts for elementary schools since the elementary schools starting at 9:00 am would shift to a start time before 8:00 am.
  • James Raney, a Fairfax County School Board member, stated that, “the cure seems to be worse than the problem to be solved….it is not the right answer.”
  • In summary: In all cases reviewed to this point, elementary school start times were left unchanged, either because high schools alone could be accommodated, or because changes were rejected due to the implications for elementary schools.
who has adopted proposals similar to the one proposed here in duxbury
Who has adopted proposals similar to the one proposed here in Duxbury?
  • We have found only three examples nationally of districts that have agreed to delay HS with a compensatory advancement in elementary school times:
    • Wilton, CT
    • Fayette, KY
    • Woodridge, OH
wilton ct
Wilton, CT

Wilton, CT is consistently cited as the positive example to support the adoption of a similar plan here in Duxbury. The Wilton experience is generally cited as predominantly, if not exclusively positive. This seems to be true for the high school. In the elementary schools, however, the experience seems mixed and bears closer evaluation. Issues to consider include the following:

  • There is little data regarding the elementary experience in Wilton (e.g., parent, student, and teacher assessments of student performance, alertness, attendance, etc - the sorts of things that seem to improve in the high schools).
  • The League of Women Voters, the catalyst for change in Wilton, acknowledges that ‘complaints from parents have never been from high school and middle school parents and students. The complaints have been from upper elementary parents who wanted everyone to start school later.”
  • No child gets on bus before 7:00 a.m.
  • In comparison to other districts in its DRG, the rank of Wilton students appears to be trending down. Although we should be cautious in interpreting such limited evidence, it is worth considering that prior to the switch, Wilton 4th graders ranked in the middle of their DRG, but in 2007-2008, they ranked 8th, 7th, and 8th (out of 8) in reading, writing, and math, respectively.
  • Wilton Elementary Grades 3-5 failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Connecticut Mastery Test due to Special Education Subgroups not passing portions of the test. (2006,2008)
wilton ct1
Wilton, CT
  • Cablevision Editorials, Feb.11, 2005
    • Presented by Wilton Parent, Frank May
    • “Wilton’s 8- to 11-year-olds, …must begin their days rising at 6 am to catch 6:50 buses in the dark. These buses on average arrive at school at 7:15 am with class instruction being delayed until 8:00 am in anticipation of late “drop-off” arrivals because a substantial number of children have trouble getting up in the morning. The irony is that the anticipated additional sleep time for high-schoolers isn’t working out because they’re often drawn into the morning process of getting the young ones out the door! Most often everybody goes out on empty stomachs as they just are not hungry at this hour. The bottom line is that the whole family loses sleep.”
  • Westport, Ct - Neighboring town to Wilton and member of Wilton’s District Reference Group
    • March 4, 2004 Westport Minuteman
    • Dan Sullivan, Elementary School Principal, Westport “…a time as early as 7:40 a.m. would be not a bad time for elementary students if they could be beamed from home to school. “
fayette county ky
Fayette County, KY
  • Posted on Duxbury School Website (Report dated March 2005 as an example of a high school/elementary start time flip success story)
    • In 1998, Elementary School Start Times Changed To

7:30, 8:00; High School Changed To 8:30.

  • Updated information on Fayette County

As of 2007 to minimize early bus pick up times, all schools shifted start times:

    • Elementary 7:45, 8:25; HS 8:25
    • Notably, elementary schools that were originally slated as 7:30 am start times were created as MAGNET SCHOOLS to entice the public to sign-up for the earlier 7:30 am start time as opposed to the 8:00 start time (An example of a ‘magnet school’ would be a bilingual school or a school focusing on global studies.)

Woodridge Local, OHThis is the only other example of a Direct High School/Elementary Flip we Could Find--it’s difficult to find, because no districts are doing it

  • HS and Elementary school directly flipped start times in 2003 – 2004
  • Problems ensued during the entire first year of implementation
  • Elementary school principal cited ongoing issues
    • Transportation
    • Childcare
    • School athletics scheduling conflicts
    • Safety of young students waiting for bus in dark

“It was a disaster.” Betsy Gorrell (Principal of Grades 3,4,5)

  • School Committee unanimously voted to reverse its decision one year after implementation.
  • Today HS maintains early start time and elementary maintains later start time
putting the duxbury proposal in context
Putting the Duxbury proposal in context:
  • Among those districts to consider high school start time changes, the significant majority have left elementary start times unchanged (either by limiting changes to the high schools or rejecting proposals altogether).
  • Among the three districts that we could find that adopted a proposal similar to Duxbury’s, two eventually changed course and returned some or all of their elementary schools to their original start times (thus, the claim that “no one that has changed would ever go back” is inaccurate).
  • Only Wilton CT has adopted and maintained a schedule similar to the one proposed in Duxbury (i.e., it is more accurate to consider the Wilton experience an outlier in the national scene). It should also be noted that the elementary experience there appears more mixed than has been presented, and also that our proposed bus times are earlier than theirs.

Wilton may have developed a very successful approach that we could adapt and adopt. However, in light of the broader national experience, we should carefully examine the degree to which our community and our proposal compares and contrasts not only with theirs, but also with those communities that have been less successful with these proposals.

rush to conclusion lack of dialogue
Rush to Conclusion – Lack of Dialogue
  • Jan. 9, 2008 School Committee Minutes
    • High School Handbook Tardy Policy altered in effort to reduce tardiness
    • School Committee Member suggests School Council review DHS start time to relieve tardy problem
  • **Sometime after January of 2008 the Superintendent puts together an advisory committee consisting of the co-chairs of the School Councils of the 4 schools. This group was to review the research and data provided to them by the superintendent and ultimately make a recommendation on start times to he School Committee.
  • April 2, 2008 School Committee minutes
    • Report from High School co chair and Chandler co-chair (members of the advisory or Feasibility Committee) of their plans to conduct a feasibility study on school start times. State that they will bring results of findings to future School Committee meeting.
  • May 7, 2008 School Committee Minutes
    • Superintendent states start time committee will be making a decision by Feb. 2009 (or sooner) for the 2009- 2010 school year
  • Oct. 2, 2008 DHS School Council Minutes
    • “There are safety questions about younger children getting home before their older siblings”.
  • Oct. 23, 2008 DHS School Council Minutes
    • Talk of rerouting buses no longer being an insurmountable problem
  • Oct. 29, 2008 School Committee Minutes
    • No mention of an informal verbal update on start time change
  • Nov. 3, 2008 Alden School Council Minutes
    • Stated that Assistant Superintendent arranged for bus company to work-up various bus-route, consensus from meeting that no change possible until Fall 2010
  • Nov. 6, 2008 DHS School Council Minutes
    • Stated if buses cost prohibitive, early start time not feasible
    • Stated if feasible, need process for informing community and getting consensus
  • Nov. 24, 2008 Alden School Council Minutes
    • Stated that Superintendent’s Office indicated School Committee wants decision for 2009- 2010 school year
  • Dec. 4, 2008 DHS School Council Minutes
    • First statement of DHS and Alden flipping start times
    • Discussed using forums, surveys and newsletters for parent and teacher involvement
    • Suggestion to expand committee to include all stakeholders
    • Questioned if communication planned for community members without children in system
    • Stated Feasibility Committee completed charge; next step present to School Committee and engage all stakeholders before making a decision
rush to conclusion lack of dialogue1
Rush to Conclusion – Lack of Dialogue
  • Dec. 10, 2008 School Committee Minutes
    • Superintendent noted 4 options to achieve later HS start time being discussed – no mention of Alden
  • Jan. 5, 2009 Alden School Council Minutes
    • No members present felt early Alden start time detrimental (7 present, 4 absent) No vote taken No research presented to this group.
  • Jan. 6, 2009 Superintendent Newsletter
    • No mention of an Alden start time – “We are exploring various options”
  • Jan. 7, 2009 School Committee Minutes
    • Superintendent stated met with Co-Chair Council today to discuss where are in process regarding history and options
  • Jan. 9, 2009 – No Alden or Chandler Newsletters
  • Jan. 14, 2009 – Superintendent Op-ed Clipper article
    • First public communication to mention Alden – DHS/DMS start time flip
  • Jan. 14, 2009 – Alden PTA Minutes
    • Superintendent presented Start Time Change proposal
    • PTA members “articulated their concerns and voiced their disapproval or the change for Alden students”:
      • Lack of research on sleep deprivation of 7-11 year olds
      • Lack of after school activities
      • Increase in costs to working families during a rough economic time.
  • Jan. 20, 2009 School Newsletters
    • Alden newsletter clearly outlined proposed change involving Alden
    • Chandler newsletter states minimal effect on Chandler but will impact other schools
    • DHS newsletter only mentioned HS change – no specific times
    • DMS newsletter only mentioned DHS/DMS change – no specific times
  • Jan. 26, 2009 – Information Evening
  • Feb. 4, 2009 – School Committee Vote
    • Superintendent presentation followed by Co-Chair Council presentation recommending the high school/elementary start time flip,followed by public comment,followed by Superintendent comment, followed by School Committee vote, followed by School Committee discussion. (Discussion did not occur until after the vote)
important timeline notes
  • November 3, 2008--Duxbury Alden Council minutes state that the consensus of the Feasibility Committee was that NO START TIME CHANGE WOULD BE POSSIBLE UNTIL THE FALL OF 2010.
  • November 24, 2008--Duxbury Alden Council now states that the Superintendent informed the Feasibility Committee that the School Committee wants to make a decision for the 2009/2010 academic year not the 2010/2011 school year.
  • December 4, 2008--FIRST MENTION OF A HIGH SCHOOL/ALDEN start time flip (Duxbury High School Council minutes)
  • January 14, 2009--FIRST PUBLIC COMMUNICATION of high school/Alden flip (Superintendent Op-Ed Article)
  • February 4 School Committee Vote-- ONLY 21 Days after the first public communication of start time flip.
petitions and letters
Petitions and Letters
  • Email petition delivered Feb. 4, 2009: total 211 families, 81 having 5th graders and older
  • Special Town Meeting petition approximately 300 signatures
our current situation buses
Our Current Situation - Buses
  • 20 buses; 3-tiered contract through 2011
  • Use 20 for DMS/DHS run
  • Use 19 for Alden run
  • Use 19 for Chandler run
  • Capacity is 77 per bus
  • Capacity vs. Usage
  • Bus Idle Time
    • Early Arrival
      • Alden – 9 buses arrive between 8:05 and 8:12; debus at 8:15
      • Chandler – 14 buses arrive between 8:44 – 8:54; debus at 8:55
    • Late Departing
      • Alden – 4 buses idle up to 8:26 before departing for Chandler route
reasonable start times for all busing is the key
Reasonable Start Times for All: Busing is The Key
  • In the summer of 2008, the Superintendent’s Office contacted First Student Busing and asked them to analyze the school bell and transportation schedule to have the high school and middle school students arrive later in the morning on a 3 tiered system. Two 3- tiered options were outlined in a report dated January 5, 2009.
  • The first option was to flip the Alden/High School start times.
  • The second option was to shift all Bells in concert until the desired times is achieved. In this option, if the school order is maintained, than any shift in DMS/DHS must result in the same shift in the Alden/Chandler bells.
  • We have examined that 2nd option and explored some others listed below. We need to go back to First Planning Solutions, A Division of First Student Busing, and request an analysis of bell schedules and transportation using a 2-tier system. A 2-tier analysis has yet to be explored.
reasonable start times for all busing is the key1
Reasonable Start Times for All: Busing is The Key
  • 3 Tiered Start Time – 30 minutes later
  • 3 Tiered Start Time – Minimize Differences in Morning Start Times
  • 2 Tiered Start Time – 6th Grade on Alden Schedule; Few or No HS Buses
  • 2 Tiered Start Time-Middle School and Alden Bussed Together, Few or No HS Bus
  • 2 Tiered Start Time – All Schools Bused
3 tiered start time all 30 minutes later first solution option 2
3 Tiered Start Time – All 30 minutes later First Solution Option #2

The School Website also posts this option as an alternative, however, it posts DMS/DHS starting at 8:00/8:10. This 30 minute shift which would result in Chandler hours being (9:45-4:00) In our example, we analyze using DMS/DHS starting at 7:50/8:00, thus shifting Chandler to 9:35-3:50.

  • Possible Challenges – Possible Solutions
    • Working parents waiting to put kids on Chandler bus
      • Times for first pick up range from 8:45 – 9:05:
      • First bus stop a group stop – drive kids to that stop to get on earlier
      • Drop child at neighbors house for pick up there
      • Rewrite bus routes to decrease time between runs – Chandler starts earlier
    • Chandler students tired at day end
      • Better option than 8 – 11 year olds to get on the bus 55 minutes earlier in the dark
      • Fill end of day with specials – physical act of walking to special class rejuvenating.
      • Swap Chandler and Alden start times as Alden students more inclined to this schedule:
3 tiered start time minimize start time differences
3 Tiered Start Time – Minimize Start time Differences
  • 45 minutes between DMS/DHS and Alden start time (currently 55 minutes)
  • 30 minutes between DMS/DHS and Alden end time (currently 40 minutes)
  • Possible Challenges – Possible Solutions
    • Working parents waiting to put kids on Chandler bus
      • Times for first pick up range from 8:35– 8:55
      • First bus stop a group stop – drive kids to that stop to get on earlier
      • Drop child at neighbors house for pick up there
      • Rewrite bus routes to decrease time between runs – Chandler starts earlier
    • 30 minute differential between DMS/DHS and Alden end time
      • Rewrite the “bus route blueprint” to maximize efficiency
      • Reduce the number of after school buses used for DMS/DHS (afternoon rider ship less, fewer afternoon bus stops, separate charge for AM and PM bus)
    • Chandler students tired late in day – swap Alden and Chandler start times
2 tiered start time 6 th grade on alden schedule few or no hs buses
2 Tiered Start Time - 6th Grade on Alden Schedule; Few or No HS Buses

First Student has not been requested, to date, to evaluate using a 2-tier System

2 tiered start time 6 th grade on alden schedule few or no hs buses1
2 Tiered Start Time - 6th Grade on Alden Schedule; Few or No HS Buses

First Student has not been requested, to date, to evaluate using a 2-tier System

  • Possible Challenges – Possible Solutions
    • Alden and 6th grade take same bus
      • 859 Alden students + 289 6th graders = 1, 148 students
      • Capacity of 16 buses = 1,232
      • Requires rewriting the “bus route blueprint” to maximize efficiency
      • May take extra buses but efficiency of routes and elimination of a tier may save money.
    • No buses for 7-12 graders
      • Use any “extra” buses for 7-12 graders with a few group stops
      • Increase fees to reduce rider ship (population gaining benefit incurs the cost of the benefit)
      • Although this may be considered a ‘burden’ to high school and middle school families, at least the ‘burden’ would be carried by the same group that is enjoying the ‘benefit’ (extra sleep).
    • HS – MS share staff – lose 20 minutes of shared time for 6th grade
    • Hudson, Ohio negotiated with First Student Busing in the Fall of 2008. First Student was able to come up with a plan that changed Hudson from a 3 tier to a 2-tier system(also Duxbury’s Bus Company). This made it possible for Hudson to have an 8:00 high school start time and a 9:20 elementary school start time. The number of buses increased, but because there was one less tier, Hudson saved 30% of bus costs (This information was obtained personally from the Steven L. Farnsworth, Superintendent of the Hudson City School District,)
2 tiered system alden middle school bused together
2 Tiered System Alden & Middle School Bused Together
  • Same benefits as Alden 2 Tier System with 6 Grade on same bus except Grades 7 & 8 also bused.
  • Will need more buses, but one less tier may still reduce overall bussing costs.
  • Burden carried by group who benefits
2 tiered start time more efficient bus utilization1
2 Tiered Start Time – More Efficient Bus Utilization
  • Possible Challenges – Possible Solutions
    • Remap the Alden/Chandler bus routes geographically
      • Half close to Chandler
        • Pick up both Chandler and Alden students
        • 1st drop off Chandler
        • 2nd drop off stop Alden
      • Half close to Alden
        • Pick up both Chandler and Alden students
        • 1st drop off Alden
        • 2nd drop off Chandler
      • Two waves of drop offs approximately 10 minutes apart
    • Need more buses – unlikely need to double fleet. When asked by a School Committee member if the option of bussing Chandler and Alden together had been considered, the Superintendent said yes and that we would need to double the fleet. However, First Planning Solutions was not asked to evaluate this 2-tiered option. Alden & Chandler busses do not operate at capacity, according to the First Planning analysis. Although re-routing would need to occur, the number of buses would not double.
    • Reduced driver time, less fuel, less green house gases. May save money (Hudson,Ohio example on previous slide)
    • Current contract 3 tiered until 2011
      • Worth negotiating with First Student – if extend beyond 2011
      • Worth RFP to Competitor, especially with allegations of collusion
final thoughts
Final Thoughts

We are gravely concerned about how a 7:30 am start time will affect our Alden students. As we have tried to demonstrate through this presentation, the decision to start Alden early is not the right decision.

The science clearly supports that these children are susceptible to sleep deprivation, and will at some point experience sleep deprivation and its negative consequences. The science also clearly illustrates that these consequences will be exacerbated in children with special education needs. The science alone should guide your decision.

Equally as important, however, is our experience as parents. We are begging you to listen to us when we say that, despite our best efforts, we cannot consistently get our kids to sleep early enough to account for this change. It is not because we are irresponsible or poor disciplinarians, it is because of the realities that we presented to you here--homework, activities, the onset of puberty, and phase delays, and sleep disorders that are prevalent in elementary age children. Parental experience and reports are accepted by doctors and scientists when forming a dependable basis for research. We ask that you view our experience with equal respect.

We have additional concerns regarding safety and childcare. While it is commendable that you have begun work on after school programs, these actually create more scheduling problems, cost families additional money, and disrupt work schedules in trying economic times.

In the spirit of cooperation we have attempted not only to point out problems, but to develop solutions. Perhaps some will turn out not to be viable, but it is worth stepping back to examine them. It is time to get creative. We need to further explore 2 Tier bus options. It is possible that, like other towns, we may be able to save money with transportation adjustments. We would like to work together to reach a solution that is more appealing to all.

final thoughts1
Final Thoughts

Members of the School Committee have said that they were surprised that the Alden families took this decision so hard. It appears that when the School Committee originally voted, it was not provided with all of the relevant information, specifically the negative impact a 7:30 start time would have on Alden students and families. If the School Committee had been aware of this information, our shock and reaction to its decision would not have been a surprise. The School Committee and Superintendent have assured us that they will consider any new information that is presented to them regarding the impact an early start time will have on the Alden children. We have made a great effort to research this issue and we have presented a tremendous amount of new material to the School Committee, the Superintendent and, through this website, the public.

One may ask, why wasn’t this information presented earlier? Although the high school start time has been publicly considered for months, maybe years, the specifics of the Alden/High School start time were not stated publicly until January 14, 2009. It is hard to determine exactly when the joint co-chair/ feasibility committee decided that an early Alden start time would be the best means to achieving the goal of starting the high school later. Although required to keep records of their deliberations as an advisory committee, no such records were kept. Through communications with members on this feasibility committee, it is readily apparent that no information on the negative impact of a 7:30 am start time was ever presented to any member of the joint co-chair/feasibility committee.

We trust that with this new information the School Committee will rescind its vote and try to develop a better solution. Rescinding its vote does not set a bad precedent--quite the opposite. These are unique circumstances. A rescission of the School Committee’s vote means that it cares about the education, health, and well-being of all Duxbury students. We agree with the School Committee’s goal--sleep is important to all of our children. Rescind your vote, and let’s start over, united ,with the best interests of everyone in mind.