PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The Academy of Pediatrics recently reported that a later start time for middle school and high school students will increase academic scores and decrease sleep deprivation. They recommend starting their school day at 8:30am.
Dr. Peter Franzen is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Dr. Meryl Butters is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The two doctors discussed this proposal with KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek. Dr. Butters has a high school student herself and started this fight two-years ago when the Pittsburgh Public Schools moved their start time to 7:29am.
The school district responded to Dr. Butters questions of starting earlier as a “cost saving measure” when they decided to stop paying to Port Authority Transportation passes. Their high school students used to receive a free bus pass to use public transportation to take them to and from school. Now, all public school students use yellow buses so they needed to add an hour onto the bus schedule and that was for the high school at 7:00am.
Dr. Butters recommends that the elementary students start earlier because their biological clock allows them to go to bed earlier. Dr. Franzen stresses that teenagers do not choose to go to bed later, and it’s not just “kids being kids.” There is a real biological change happening in their bodies that doesn’t allow them to fall asleep as easily.