School Start Time Changes Discussed at School Board Meeting

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) A school board meeting this past Thursday included the idea of possibly changing school start times.

A school board meeting this past Thursday included the idea of possibly changing school start times. Potential ideas were proposed by Shannon Bingham, a researcher from 'Western Demographics, Inc.' in a presentation to the board. (Carly Sjordal/KTVF)

Potential ideas were proposed by Shannon Bingham, a researcher from 'Western Demographics, Inc.' in a presentation to the board.

Bingham proposed that Fairbanks adopt North Pole's start time method, which has a two tiered system.

He said that if this idea was used in Fairbanks, middle school and high school classes would both begin at 8:30 a.m.

According to Bingham, the time change could possibly cause scheduling issues with sports and other extracurricular activities... and would require proper planning so that students could participate later in the evenings.

In the presentation, it was noted that school start time would also change the bus routes for Fairbanks schools, most likely having middle and high school students riding together.

The research into later school start times being beneficial to students still requires a lot of work, and is currently inconclusive according to Bingham, who called it ‘squishy at best’.

However, he did provide data to suggest that more sleep for students equaled better performance in school.

Bingham showcased a number of studies linking early start times to bad school behavior and more sleep with a decreased risk of childhood obesity.

"As research on middle aged and high school kids has progressed we've really discovered that they are fundamentally sleep deprived and they don't tend to start learning in most cases until a little bit later in the morning", said Bingham.

As suggested by school council board member Tim Doran, Bingham says he plans to research more of the changing family dynamics and life patterns correlated to school start times.

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