Science supports later high school start times, but money and practicality could stand in the way

Posted at 12:59 AM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 05:38:03-04

CINCINNATI -- Almost every high schooler in the country would probably enjoy an extra hour to sleep in every morning, and they've got science backing them up. The Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics support the idea that later school start times -- no earlier than 8:30 -- might be beneficial for teens' health, quality of sleep and learning capabilities. 

At a Thursday night meeting in which Cincinnati Public Schools invited members of the public to weigh in on pushing local high school start times back, however, the proposal faced some opposition.

The problem isn't the science, mother Sherri Boone said. It's the scheduling. She drops her son off at Walnut Hills High School every morning before she goes to work, and a later start time for him would mean a transportation tangle for her.

"I'd have to come up with a new game plan," she said. "I feel like there's other things that money can be spent on."

Money is definitely a concern, school board member Eve Bolton admitted. Implementing later start times would force the district to add 50 buses to its fleet and spend a year planning to make it work.

"All our children travel free, be they on yellow bus or Metro bus, because the district pays for that," she said.

The district already spends about $40 million on transportation each year, she said. Paying for the necessary buses and drivers could cost around $15 million more.

Walnut Hills student Jeresa Anderson, however, said she thinks it would be worthwhile.

"A lot of people are talking about (how) it would be a lot more money," she said. "But I think if we really care about students, we should invest more money into them being healthier and stress-free."

School board members said they planned to share their findings and the opinions volunteered at the meeting with City Council before continuing with next steps.