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Hampton School Board to mull start times for students

| Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

There will be a special community meeting at Hampton Township School District regarding school start times Jan. 22, with speaker Dr. Peter Franzen, a local expert on the subject.

Franzen, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has studied the idea of delaying the school day, which would mostly benefit high school-age students, and will provide input and feedback at the meeting.

The Hampton special meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. and is open to the public. The evening will include a 45-minute presentation by Franzen, followed by a 15-minute, question-and-answer period for the audience. It will be held at the Hampton High School Auditorium.

Franzen is considered a local authority on the subject, according to Shari Berg, public relations consultant for the school district. Aside from planning the meeting, she said the district has not had any other discussions on the idea, but just wants to obtain information from Franzen.

“The overall goal of the Dr. Franzen presentation is to provide the school board with more information about the benefits of having a later start time. At this point in time, the board is just collecting information and educating itself on the issue,” Berg said.

The idea has been studied and recommended for years now, including the American Academy of Pediatrics which suggests delaying start times, specifically for high school students until 8:30 a.m., according to research presented by Hampton school district Dr. Michael Loughead at an October board meeting.

Hampton High School has a start time of 7:30 a.m.

“Normal biological changes during adolescent development results in sleep getting lighter and the biological clock delaying, making it more difficult for youth to fall asleep at night, leading to a school–sleep squeeze when combined with early school start times,” said Franzen in an October Trib article.

When discussing the idea, the board acknowledged several things will have to be addressed such as bus runs, after school activities, and sports.

They said they hope Franzen will be able to offer input and are looking for the community for feedback.

At a November board meeting, Loughead said that Franzen seemed very interested to help the district learn more about sleep patterns with teenagers.

“I think it's something the public would like to know about,” Loughead said.

Several area schools districts have already implemented a delay in the day including, Avonworth and Quaker Valley. North Allegheny is investigating the idea, according to Emily Schaffer, the public relations and communications specialist there.

Natalie Beneviat is aTribune-Review contributor.

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