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School board approves late start

Kenneth Chang
October 21, 2010

On Oct. 13, the District Board of Education approved the new late start plan for high schools in the Fremont Unified School District. Although details are still being worked out, the new start time for all FUSD high schools would be 8:00 a.m. and the end time would be around 3:00 p.m. which will go into effect during the 2011-2012 school year.
“The original plan was not approved last spring because the staff identified a cost of about $100,000 because additional bus routes would be needed as a result of the change in start times. The Board of Education was making drastic cuts to many areas of the budget at that time and felt that they could not approve the change because of the cost,” FUSD Superintendent Jim Morris said.
However, Jim Gannon, the Manager of Transportation, felt he could make the change by altering a small number of bus routes.
There would be many advantages to having a later school starting time. Medical research showed that kids should get about nine hours of sleep each day, yet the Center for Disease Control reports that only around a third of students nationwide actually get around that much sleep a day.
According to a poll done last year by FUSD, a majority of both students and parents favored a later start time which  could certainly benefit students, as a study in Rhode Island showed. Researchers studied a high school that pushed its start time back around 30 minutes. The students reported that not only did they get more sleep but there were fewer complaints of students feeling unhappy, depressed, and irritated, along with an increase of class participation. School administrators, teachers and coaches all voted to keep the system in place, once seeing the results.
Students  at WHS also seemed to favor a later start time.
“It would let me sleep more, though I would have to go home later from tennis” Junior Alex Nguyen said.
Even the superintendent is in favor of a later school start time.
“I have three children of my own and believe that a later start time is a better fit for the sleep patterns of high school age students,” Morris said.
There are some, however, that do not support the new plan. Larry Sweeney, a Board of Education member, voted against the plan.
“I do not believe it will make a difference. Students will still do what they currently do. Some stay up past midnight or 1 a.m. doing school work. They will get a later start on the homework, stay up a little later and get to go to school a little later”,”Sweeney said.

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