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Ladue Schools to Keep Same Bell Schedules; Length of Day

District not ready to make any changes in a year when so much is in flux.

The time had come for the Ladue School Board of Education to act on the selection of bell times and length of day for all the buildings in the district.

District personnel need the time to put together bus routes for the 2013-14 school year. A new fifth-grade center will be coming on-line in August.

Three questions had to be answered

  • Will all building official bell times (other than the Ladue Early Childhood Center) be six hours and fifty minutes in duration.
  • Will the new Fifth Grade Center be placed on the same tier as the High School.
  • Will the high school or middle school open first each school day.

The board resolved by a vote of 5-1 to keep the option that already exists. Board member Ken Smith was the only one to vote nay.

Surveys showed that 71 percent of the high school students wanted the same school hours they already have: 7:40 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.

Former educator/board member Jeff Kopolow proposed a radical change. Knowing it would not pass, he suggested moving the high school school day to a 9:30 a.m. start. “What most high school students need is more sleep,” he said.

Smith believed the board should decide what is best for all the students. Surveys show that high school students should start later, and middle school earlier. Smith wanted to flip-flop starting times. (Middle School currently starts at 8:10 a.m.)

“We should give the students what they really need (more time to sleep) not what they want. Students are resilient and would quickly adapt to change,”  said Smith.

The prevailing view of the board was this is not the year for radical change in light of getting a new superintendent and opening a new school. (The fifth Grade Center).

The current bell schedule with high school opening first and elementary schools last will remain in place.

More on this topic and security issues Wednesday on Patch.com.

EducationServesEveryone January 30, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Creve Coeur Dad, if only this were pseudo science. I'm a psychologist, and there is an abundance of really GOOD science about this in the sleep studies field. Feel free to check it out. You may view your teenagers (and your 6 AM rising toddlers) differently afterwards.
CreveCoeurDad January 30, 2013 at 06:09 PM
There is a lot of good science that shows that teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night. You will be hard pressed to find any study that indicates their natural sleep pattern is midnight to 9 AM. Just think about it logically - why would we evolve that way? Toddlers actually are closer to the natural sleep pattern. They need 10 hours, we put them to bed at 8, they get up a 6, 10 hours later, and conveniently enough, sunrise. Toddlers and younger children are not clock driven, the rest of us are. If you type in "natural sleep cycle" on Google, you'll find multiple references to the fact that since we evolved near the equator, where you have 12 hour night and day patterns continually, our natural sleep cycle is actually bedtime two hours after dusk, four hours of sleep, two hours of wakefulness, four more hours of sleep, rise at sunrise. That actually makes sense, although the two hour period in the middle is actually a surprise. But 8 hours total, tied to the sun, perfectly logical. Starting high school at 9:30 AM would just be accommodating bad behavior, not to mention a ton of unintended consequences. It's like trying to get a free lunch.
EducationServesEveryone January 31, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Please feel free to reference the wide array of studies on changes in circadian rhythm over adolescence. A good place to start is the Mayo Clinic's page on Teen Sleep, or this very recent Psychology Today article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-teenage-mind/201202/sleepy-teens. Online scholarly articles abound if you Google "adolescent sleep cycles"; they talk about changes in circadian biochemistry during puberty.
CreveCoeurDad January 31, 2013 at 02:22 AM
The article you linked to does mention changing sleep patterns, but it mainly focuses on lack of sleep, e.g. getting 7 hours when you need 9. Everyone seems to be confusing the two, and no one has yet been able to show me that teenagers sleep patterns should naturally be midnight to 9 AM. The only way that happens is if you stay up until midnight every night, then you do need to sleep until 9 AM to get enough sleep and will do so if not disturbed by parents and/or daybreak. It's the midnight part that is under their/parental control. It's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to show an evolutionary reason why, especially in winter, that human teenagers would want to stay up 6 or 7 hours past sundown. Although I hate the term, it's an "artificial construct" of modern society, not a natural sleep pattern. There comes a point where one hour more of sleep gains you more than one hour more of studying or extracurricular activities. Do less, sleep more, get more done.
James Baer January 31, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Fact is the school board voted to keep high school start of day at 7:40 a.m. Sorry, no one in the world starts at 9:30 other than semi-retired stock brokers aged 80 and above. Teens, turn off the computer and TV and get some sleep.

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