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What’s the Holdup Over Switching to Later Start Times for St. Paul’s Secondary Students?

At the St. Paul School Board meeting earlier this week, a number of parents, educators and community members showed up to weigh in on an issue the district has grappled with for years and suddenly seems poised to act on: whether to shift to later start times for most middle and high school students.

Those in favor of adopting later start times for secondary students cited the academic and health benefits that are supported by a large body of research. Speaking on behalf of one of the district’s pilot sites, Johnson Senior High School, Principal Micheal Thompson said that his students are “more alert and ready to learn,” tardiness numbers have decreased, MCA test scores have increased, students report they’re getting more sleep, and the list of students on the honor role is at an all-time high. He largely attributes these changes to the 8:30 a.m. start time the school switched to in the fall of 2015, which gave students the opportunity to chalk up one more hour of sleep each night.