Later Start Times for Des Moines Schools ‘Not Realistic’

The Des Moines Public School District says a national study suggesting school times start later for adolescents is "not realistic". (Reid Chandler/WHO-HD).

The Des Moines Public School District says a national study suggesting school times start later for adolescents is “not realistic”. (Reid Chandler/WHO-HD).

DES MOINES, Iowa – A national study by the American Academy of Pediatrics is creating buzz over the internet after suggesting middle and high schools start later in the day.

The study suggests adolescents are more likely to be tardy to class, doze off during a lecture, and even experience physical and mental health issues if required to attend school too early in the morning. The American Academy of Pediatrics concludes their study with a recommendation that schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., a suggestion only 14% of the nation’s public schools currently meet.

In Des Moines, public schools have a range of start times, beginning as early as 7:40 a.m. Des Moines Public Schools say times vary for transportation reasons; the same school buses drop students off at different schools, so start times can’t all be the same. While the study makes valid points to early start-times having potential effects on students’ performance and health, the district said applying suggestions made from such a study aren’t “realistic.”

“These kind of studies are done in a vacuum,” said Phil Roeder, Director of Communications & Public Affairs for Des Moines Public Schools. “In reality, parents have jobs to be at, and pushing start times back would also effect after-school sports and other activities.”

While schools want students to be prepared for each day, Roeder said, ultimately, it’s up to the parent and the student to plan accordingly. Whether you’re for or against later start times at schools, Roeder said one thing is clear: there never seem to be enough hours in the day.

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