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Kingsport BOE mulls later start time for middle schools, D-B

September 16th, 2011 4:14 am by Rick Wagner

   KINGSPORT — Imagine Kingsport elementary schools starting about 8 a.m. and the middle schools and Dobyns-Bennett High School starting about 8:25 a.m. to 8:35 a.m.

   Kingsport City Schools is moving forward with the idea of starting high school and middle schools later than elementary schools, beginning next school year.

   The current schedule is 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. for elementary students, 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for middle school and block schedule high school students, and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for high schoolers with singleton schedules.

   Although the Kingsport Board of Education took no vote and made no formal decision during a non-voting work session Thursday night, BOE President Randy Montgomery asked the central office staff to come up with a draft “flip” of the school start times for consideration by the board later and possible adoption with the 2012-13 calendar in late November or early December.

   Superintendent Richard Kitzmiller presented the BOE a summary of a 1998 University of Minnesota study of the Minneapolis Public Schools, which found that a switch from 7:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. to 8:40 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. by 2001 resulted in better attendance, fewer tardies and perhaps slightly better grades but no marked increase in standardized test scores.

Further, he said it found students continue to go to bed at about the same time but slept more, gaining about five hours of sleep a week.

   The National Sleep Foundation recommends nine hours of sleep a night, he said, and reports that puberty makes

   Please see KINGSPORT, PA G E 8A teenagers tend to stay up later and sleep later in the mornings. It also reported 15 percent of students admitted falling asleep at school.

   A 2008 study found fewer student vehicle accidents at a system with a later high school start compared to one with an earlier start.

   Kitzmiller said when Maryville schools made the change, it did not result in expected pushback from students with after-school jobs or adversely affect athletics, band and other programs that practice or meet after school.

   BOE Vice President Carrie Upshaw, a vocal proponent of the switch starting last year, said the elementary schools could have enrichment, book clubs, open athletic facilities and other afterschool activities to help students after the earlier dismissal.


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