Thanks to all who have expressed support for the recently announced 2011-12 school start times. I am aware change can be difficult and has an impact on many people.

Thanks to all who have expressed support for the recently announced 2011-12 school start times. I am aware change can be difficult and has an impact on many people.

The district is currently processing the feedback we are receiving and work is under way to address some concerns raised by working elementary parents.

We are currently working with our elementary principals in examining several options to provide parents and students with some additional before-school opportunities in 2011-12. We are examining a variety of programming options which could start in the 8:45 -9 a.m. range and would provide working elementary parents with some flexibility on the front end of their school days.

The possible options being studied include:

Expansion of the district's breakfast program

Programs in our gymnasiums

Enrichment and remediation programs


Chess Clubs

Computer labs

Offerings provided by Dublin Latchkey

While we try to meet our districtwide goals of providing students with more sleep per current best practices and research, we are also mindful of individual situations and possible hardships with the new start times.

Additional information will be made available as soon as some concepts are finalized. Please be assured we are working to be responsive to those who have expressed concerns.

As we move through 2011-12, we will be undertaking an indepth evaluation of the new times and how they are working for our students, parents, and staff.

The later start times are a result of the work of the School Reform Task Force. The task force consisted of parents, teachers, staff, students, administrators, representatives from the Dublin Educators Association, Dublin Latchkey and the district's transportation department. The group began to meet in June 2009 and worked for 16 months.

The task force spent countless hours examining the start times of our neighboring districts and districts around the country. They also spent a great deal of time examining the latest research on optimal school start times. The group concluded later start times, especially at the high school level, would be beneficial for our students.

Our high-school drivers will no longer have to travel to school in the dark. The later time will help keep them safer on the roads. The same body of research indicated middle school students would also benefit from a later school start time.

The research identified by the task force indicates later start times allow teens to better control their emotions, have better peer relationships, avoid depression, lessen the likelihood of drug use, have fewer tardies and even lower suicide rates.

There are also some academic benefits to later start times. The research indicates students who get more sleep perform better academically. I would like to thank the more than 5,000 parents, students and staff members who participated in community surveys on this topic during 2010. The majority of respondents, across the board, indicated later start times would improve student learning. Clearly, we are interested in doing anything we can to improve the learning environment for our students.

The sequence of when each level begins remains as it is now. High school comes to school first, middle school second, then elementary, as it is now. The great majority of survey respondents did not favor an earlier start time for elementary school.

I am also pleased to report we are able to undertake this change without any additional buses or bus drivers, and without putting middle school and high school students on the same buses.

Extracurricular activities will not be adversely impacted by the change in start times. Additionally, the schedules of middle school students who take high school level courses, or elementary school students who travel to middle schools for strings, will not be disrupted.

As always, thank you for your support of our district.

David Axner is the superintendent of Dublin City Schools.