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East Greenbush considers changing school start times

Emily De Vito
Updated: November 14, 2019 11:15 PM
Created: November 14, 2019 05:06 PM

EAST GREENBUSH - Do you think your child's school starts too early? One local district is considering a change.

At East Greenbush School District’s Columbia High School, the bell rings for first period at 7:10 a.m., the earliest in the Capital Region.

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“They're really not getting enough sleep between the homework load that they have and then trying to maybe get seven or eight hours of sleep at best,” said parent Maryann Roberts. “Not really healthy for students.”

Parents and students took their concerns to the district, which held a forum Thursday night to discuss a start time of 8:15 a.m. for the high school. Thursday night’s forum was the third and final one the district would be holding on the subject.

“There’s rising concerns across the country regarding the social, emotional wellness of our adolescents,” said East Greenbush Central School District Superintendent Jeff Simons.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need more than nine hours of sleep a night for optimal performance, health and brain development. However, they get an average of seven hours a night.

Sleep deprivation can impair alertness, problem solving, coping with stress, and retaining information

Moving the high school time would then also adjust the middle and elementary school start times. The middle school would shift from 7:40 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., which has some concerned about after school activities with the later dismissal.

"It would definitely impact athletics with a later game time and that presents concerns with kids getting home later, homework and all the challenges that our teens face,” said Simons.

Elementary school students would have an earlier start time. Instead of beginning their day at 9:25 a.am, they would begin at 7:30 a.m.

“If the students are being dismissed at the elementary school at two o'clock that's a long day,” said Simons expressing the concern he’s heard from parents. “They have to stay in after school care and parents are concerned about the impact on daycare, which is difficult to access currently in the region."

Information from the forums will be presented to the Board of Education meeting in December and at that time the superintendent will make a recommendation on what should be done.


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