Group pushing to change school start times

AACPS says it will cost taxpayers money

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Parents of high school students call it mission impossible -- getting their kids up in the morning.

As schools work to bring in students earlier, one group in Annapolis wants to hit the snooze button.

Heather Macintosh is with a group called "Start School Later," and that's exactly what she feels high school aged kids should do in Anne Arundel County. Anne Arundel high schools start at 7:17 a.m., the earliest in the state. She feels that's too early for teenagers.

"Kids should go to school at a time that is healthier for their sleep needs.....and their mental health," Macintosh said.

The county board of education says a later start time would have a negative impact on when kids get out of school.

"That puts schools out at 4 or 4:30, and that impacts evening activities – sports, homework time and those things," said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier.
 
Despite the view of school officials, Macintosh points to a Minnesota study, where changing start times translated to better academic performance.

"Those districts have seen benefits in academics, health in students so their grades have gone up. They've seen a drop in depression and anxiety and suicidal tendencies," she said.

Meanwhile, the county argues not only would a later start have a negative impact on afternoon and evening activities – it would cost taxpayers more money.
 
"To move high school times back and leave middle schools the way they are, that involves dozens more busses and millions more dollars," Mosier said.

Macintosh's group will have its first meeting Saturday in Annapolis.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need as much as nine hours of sleep each night.

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