The Dublin school district has hit the snooze button on a decision on moving Dublin's high school start time back to allow students more sleep.

The Dublin school district has hit the snooze button on a decision on moving Dublin's high school start time back to allow students more sleep.

Superintendent David Axner originally intended to make a recommendation regarding the start time for Dublin's three high schools during a Jan. 24 meeting, but analysis of busing and costs is taking longer than anticipated. A recommendation is expected within the next month, however.

The recommendation to push back the start time for Dublin high school students stems from a late November study released by the School Reform Task Force. The committee of parents, teachers, staff, administrators and other representatives met for more than a year to look at best practices in school-day times.

After the presentation, Axner said he was "convinced" moving the high school start time back from 7:25 a.m. was needed.

Axner said the school district has ruled out busing middle and high school students together, which was originally viewed as an option for pushing the high school start time back and keeping middle and elementary school times the same.

"It would definitely be cost prohibitive," he said of busing middle and high school students together. "It's not the time to be spending more dollars "

The solution the district is currently working toward, Axner said, is "squeezing" time in between bus routes. Elementary, middle and high school students would still be bused separately, but there would be little time in between each route. The option would have the high schools starting at 8 a.m., Axner said.

"That would be the earliest any school would start," he said. "We're trying to do the best we can to save time. We're doing creative scheduling that will impact the bus routes."

An 8 a.m. start for high school students would be 35 minutes later than the current start.

"The (School Reform Task Force) recommended a 45-minute increase, but all of the research supports 30 minutes more," Axner said.

More work on school bus routes is planned over the next few weeks, with an official recommendation expected next month.

"I would anticipate a solid, firm recommendation would be done at the Feb. 14 board meeting. By then we've got to know. We have handbooks being put together and school calendars," Axner said. "What I don't want to do is wait one more year."

During the School Reform Task Force's November presentation, members said pushing the high school start time back by at least 45 minutes would be beneficial for students. Studies have shown more sleep means better grades and other benefits. Some studies linked a lack of sleep with an increase in auto accidents among teens.

The task force also presented surveys given to students, teachers and parents on different start times.

In student surveys, 42 percent of Dublin high school students admitted to falling asleep during class one or more times a week. In the same survey, 37 percent of students reported driving to school feeling drowsy one or more times a week, although 42 percent of students surveyed said it never happens to them.

The task force also surveyed parents on three potential options and the option with the most support had elementary and middle schools starting at current times, but the high schools starting 45 minutes later at 8:10 a.m.

jnoblit@thisweeknews.com

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