Warren Township High to explore later start times
Warren Township High School in Gurnee plans to explore the possibility of later start times for students.
At a meeting Tuesday night, board members agreed with a recommendation by Superintendent John Ahlgrim to hold a session March 29 devoted to discussion about a later start. Ahlgrim said administrators would lead the discussion, with the expectation of direction from elected officials on where to go with the issue at the end of the evening.
If District 121 were to work toward a later start, Ahlgrim said, it likely could not occur before the 2020-21 academic year.
Almond campus students typically begin school at 7:25 a.m., Ahlgrim said. Freshmen and sophomores generally start at 8:25 a.m. at the O'Plaine Road building.
"With two campuses that we have and two different schedules, there's a lot of intermingling between our buildings and our other (feeder) districts and our community as a whole," Ahlgrim said. "So there would be a lot of details that would need to happen."
Warren board member Catherine Campbell said she's aware of research showing teenage students benefit from starting school later in the morning.
"We're here to advance student achievement," Campbell said. "That's our main charter."
Last year, officials at several suburban school districts began addressing having class start later in the day.
Board members at Stevenson High School District 125 took action, agreeing to start classes 25 minutes later in 2016-17.
Driving the discussion are reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts advocating later starts. They said research shows students who get more sleep improve their academic performance.
In addition, the health experts report that later start times have led to fewer vehicle crashes involving teenagers.