Delayed start, more sleep, may still be an option at high school

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By Wren Propp



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A schedule that allows students some extra “z” time – with a delayed start to the school day – may still be a possibility at Los Alamos High School.


The LAPS board decided earlier this week that they would not implement any delayed start time at elementaries, the middle school and the high school, but they also supported efforts by the high school to provide options for students.

Board President Jenny McCumber on Friday said that she would “absolutely,” like to see the high school explore delayed start as an alternative for students.

“Individualizing education is key to meeting the needs of students,” she said.

A delayed start for high school and middle school students has been discussed for the past several months. Any changes to start time at the high school and the middle school would have brought elementary-age students to school earlier.

Set as a community discussion – led by New Mexico First, a nonprofit public policy organization – school district leaders studied a delayed start to the school day to recognize that teens often achieve deep sleep later in the night than younger children or older adults.

Teens normally need a bit more sleep than other age groups, and usually awaken fully later.

According to New Mexico First and a survey at the LAPS website, the community was split fairly evenly between keeping the same start time for all schools, or delaying start time for the middle school and high school.

High school staff also worked on a “z” and “c” schedule alternatives, which would have allowed high school students to choose between a delayed start time or the current start time. The alternative would have put the decision in the hands of the students and their parents.

“There’s no question that we’re all sleep deprived. Let’s give people more choices; let’s let families decide for themselves,” McCumber said during an interview on Friday.

McCumber and other board members heard nearly an hour of comments from students, parents, and coaches, all in support retaining the high school’s current start time. The board voted 3-2 for no change, but support alternatives at the high school. Two members voted against the “no change” motion, saying they wanted students to have an opportunity to sleep.

Carter Payne, principal at the high school, did not return a request for an interview on Friday.