Make Barrington High classes start at 8 a.m. or later, panel says
Later start times urged for higher grades, fewer accidents, improved health
Should Barrington High School start its school day later to give its students a better night's rest?
After reviewing thousands of pages of research, members of Input 220, an advisory panel to the Barrington Area Unit School District 220 board, said the district probably should move the start times later in the morning.
The panel presented a summary of its findings at a public input session at Station Middle School in Barrington Thursday night attended by around 70 members of the community.
Kristina Anderson, an Input 220 committee member, said she and her colleagues on the panel came in without any preconceived notions about how start times could affect high school students and have learned a lot in their exhaustive research.
"We looked at thousands of pages of research and phoned many school districts," Anderson said. "All of the schools that moved their start times later than 8 a.m., we could not find any that moved back before 8 a.m."
Currently, first-period classes at the high school begin at 7:20 a.m.
Anderson said the research shows that moving the high school start time has led to higher grades and test scores, a significant reduction in teenage car accidents, and fewer instances of mental health issues and substance abuse.
Anderson said the committee thought they'd find pros and cons in the research, but the only cons were people's initial resistance to change.
"We found once people adjusted to the change -- and none of us particularly love change -- but once people adjusted to it, it was resoundingly successful," she said.
The majority of the community members who addressed the panel with their thoughts after the 45-minute presentation supported moving the start time later.
Amy Love, a district parent with two children in high school and one in middle school, said their bus comes at 6:05 a.m.
"It's horrible. It is horrible," Love said to scattered applause. "I go by and turn their light on, and finally right before we're cutting down to the last second, I'm like, 'Guys, are you staying home today?' and then they look up and say 'What time is it?'"
The change to later start times is beginning in the Northwest suburbs.
Last month, Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire announced it would move its start times back 25 minutes next year to give students more sleep. Anderson said Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214 administrators have indicated to District 220 administrators that they are watching what 220 does, reviewing its research and potentially following its lead.
A survey on start times was emailed to all district staff members, parents and students after Thursday's forum.
The next question for the Input 220 committee to tackle is how the district might be able to move start times later, taking all of the logistic issues into account. Input 220 could its their findings to the school board in the spring, and the board could act on them in time to make changes next school year.