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Later high school start times mulled

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Should Los Alamos High School start later to accommodate older teenagers whose growing brains may prevent them from getting a good night’s rest until the early morning hours?

Los Alamos Public Schools officials are seeking from input from members of the public.

An electronic comment box under the heading Adjusting School Start Time on the LAPS website at laschools.net will be open until November 6.

The final “vote” and comments will become part of the school board’s consideration, along with a final report from New Mexico First, a public policy think tank, hired to facilitate discussions about the issue.

School board members will review all of the material at their Nov. 30 board work session, scheduled for Aspen Elementary. If adopted, the later start time would apply to the school year that starts in August next year, according to a press release from Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus.

Last week, Los Alamos High School teacher Michael Montaño has formally asked the school board to put the brakes on any changes to the start time at the high school.

He asked that the school board give a group of teachers and staff time to work on a proposal to give students a choice of greater flexibility for schedules, rather than adopting a later start time that impacts everyone, including students, parents and staff.

For several days earlier this month representatives of New Mexico First facilitated discussions at the high school and presentations at the other schools.

The think tank, hired via a professional contract with the school district, has also presented a White Paper regarding current research on the sleep cycles of older teenagers, as well as the impact later start times have on educational institutions. The research paper is part of the website.