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Rethinking School Start Times 2016-17

  • Saint Paul Public Schools engaged in a year-long process of conversation, research and analysis to consider shifting secondary start times. See the links below for background about the initiative.

    UPDATE: Nov. 17, 2015: The Saint Paul Public Schools Board of Education on Nov. 17 voted to not change start times for the 2016-17 school year. Read more ...

    UPDATE: Oct. 6, 2015: Saint Paul Public Schools leaders presented their leading recommendation to keep current school start times for the 2016-17 school year. SPPS also presented two alternative options to the Board of Education at the Oct. 6 Committee of the Board meeting. SPPS would like to continue working with Metro Transit for a possible expansion to other schools in the future. Read more...

    UPDATE: Sept. 8, 2015: Johnson Senior High was selected to pilot an 8:30 a.m. start time in fall 2015, with the additional benefit of using Metro Transit to get to and from school. This pilot program is a direct result of feedback received during our Rethinking School Start Times engagement process. Learn more about the program.

    UPDATE: Oct. 14, 2014: The Board of Education voted 4 to 3 to approve the recommendation made to Superintendent Silva by the School Start Times Steering Committee. 

    UPDATE: Oct. 13, 2014: During the 2013-14 school year, a Steering Committee led the process of gathering information and feedback from teachers, students, parents, principals and community programs to make a recommendation about whether or not SPPS should shift secondary schools to later start times.
    Read the Steering Committee's final 2014 Recommendation Report.


    Results of an earlier start time for elementary schools

    • Students are more attentive in class.
    • More elementary students choose to eat breakfast.
    • Schools will be able to structure more core classes in the morning when elementary students learn best.
    • Some families may see a decreased need for childcare, which means fewer morning transitions before school.
    • Research shows that after the first year, a majority of families and school staff prefer their new routine. 

    Results of a later start time for secondary schools



    Science behind teen sleep patterns

    • Later sleep patterns are biological, not necessarily behavioral
    • 9 or more hours of sleep is best for teenagers
    • However, 69% of high school students do not receive 8 hours of sleep
    • Delayed onset of melatonin (a chemical in the brain that regulates sleep) for teens makes it difficult to go to sleep earlier
    • Melatonin release and natural sleep cycle begins between 10:45 – 11 p.m.
    • Later school start times show no impact on when teens fall asleep. 


    • Increased rates of depression, anxiety and fatigue
    • Increased risk of suicide • Increased rates of auto accidents
    • Decreased athletic and motor skills
    • Weight gain and/or elevated blood pressure
    • Increased likelihood of criminal behavior or risk-taking (drugs, alcohol)
    • Interference with brain development (memory formation)


    When students begin school at 8:30 a.m. or later

    • Improved attendance and decreased tardiness
    • Improvement in continuous enrollment
    • Improved health and fewer trips to the nurse
    • Improved alertness
    • Increase in GPA
    • Increase in percent of students scoring “proficient” on MCA math
    • Increase in secondary students eating breakfast

    *Source: Examining the Impact of Later High School Start Times on the Health and Academic Performance of High School Students: A Multi-Site Study, Kyla L. Wahlstrom, Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

    Family and Student Based

    • Disruptions to family routines
    • Expanded need for after-school childcare
    • Possible increase in childcare costs

    Family and Student Based

    • High school students would not be able to watch younger siblings after school
    • Students will get home later from after-school activities
    • Student athletes likely to miss last period for non-conference games
    • Less time for after school student employment
    When students receive fewer than 8 hours of sleep