Columbia Public Schools re-examines school start times

Oct 11, 2012

Columbia Public School administrators looked at the amount of sleep kids receive Wednesday night at the World Café Community Conversation, and focused discussion on school bus routes.

About two hundred parents, teachers, and committee members talked about changing Columbia’s school bus routes from a two-tiered system to a three-tiered system.

But adding a new tier of school bus routes would mean schools’ start times would have to change as well.

Superintendent Chris Belcher says that’s one of the questions up for discussion.

“So, we’re saying, should we start elementary first?" Belcher said. "Would they be earlier?  Should we start high schools later? Now’s the time to discuss it.  Very few schools have done that.”

Columbia high schools start first, followed by middle schools and then elementary schools. Columbia public schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark, says research that shows middle and high school students might benefit from a later start time.

"There’s a lot of research out there that suggests that adolescents need more sleep and that starting later would be better for them," Baumstark said. "But that’s all up for discussion. I mean, currently that’s not the configuration we have for start times for our students, and so parents could decide that they prefer the way it is now, or they could decide that they would like to see there be a later start for high schools.”

Notes from the World Café discussion will be made available online within the next ten days.

The transportation committee will use the notes to develop a recommendation to present to the school board.