More debate on if high school students should start classes later

TAMPA, Fla. - One lawmaker wants to make it a state law that high schoolers start school at 8 a.m. or later. Currently, most begin classes in the 7 a.m. hour. There's plenty of opposition to the idea, but many pediatricians and parents are on board.

Linette Moore is the mother of five children and three of them are in high school. "It's ridiculous how early they have to get up to get prepared for school," said Moore.

She said it is much harder for the teens to wake up.  

"Of course they want to stay up later but they have to go school earlier, so they do not get enough sleep, so they have to go to school and try to perform and they are sleepy," said Moore.

Pediatrician Marcy Solomon Baker said studies show teens compared to younger kids do better later in the day.

"We see teenagers in here a lot that aren't getting enough sleep. In general, they are more likely to be more the night owls than early bird person at that age," said Dr. Baker.

The doctor, also the mother of a teen, believes high schoolers would benefit from a law pushing a later start time. So does the president of the Florida School Board Association. Patty Hightower and hundreds of other school board members are in Tampa for an annual conference. Hightower said in her district, Escambia County, they went with a later start time three years ago.

"We put together a task force and that task force found that it would benefit the high schoolers. It didn't cost us any additional money we thought it might," said Hightower.

But cost is among the issues for many who oppose the idea, such as Lee Swift, a former president and current school board member out of Charlotte County. He feels this should be decided county by county.

"It is certainly not a one size fits all issue that should be addressed at the state level," said Swift.

A major concern is changing the bus schedule and the cost behind it, but for Moore, that's not enough of a reason. "That is a very small sacrifice, they are our future," said Moore.

The bill's already been introduced in the House and is expected to be heard in the Senate. It's expected to be reviewed by the House committee early next year.

If it passes, lawmakers want the new law to take effect in the 2014-15 school year.

 

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