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Inside the Classroom

Fox Chapel, other districts join debate over later school start times

Jamie Martines
| Thursday, April 12, 2018, 2:39 p.m.

Fox Chapel Area School District is joining the debate over later school start times.

The district will hold a public community forum Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at the high school to discuss the issue.

Medical professionals, district administrators and advocates for later school start times will participate in the panel discussion. All residents of the Fox Chapel Area School District, including children, are welcome to attend, according to a statement from the district.

Fox Chapel is one of several area districts to wade into the debate this school year.

The Board of Directors of Seneca Valley School District in Butler County voted to accept later start times for the 2018-19 school year on Monday, according to a statement from the district.

Grades seven through 12 will start 35 minutes later--current start is 7:34 a.m., the new start will be 8:09 a.m.--while the start time for grades kindergarten through six will be delayed by 15 minutes. Those students will begin class at 8:40 a.m. to adjust for a new morning bus schedule.

Seneca Valley has been studying the issue for about two years, according to the statement. The district considered research suggesting that schools start classes no earlier than 8 a.m. in order to make it easier for students to get more sleep, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Hempfield Area School District in Westmoreland County recently announced that the school day would start earlier and last longer in order to accommodate electives, career training and extra help sessions.

Hempfield administrators acknowledged that some studies make a case for later start times, but also pointed to others that contradict those findings. Hempfield Area Assistant Superintendent Mark Gross told the Tribune-Review that moving to a later high school start time would also disrupt the transportation schedule for schools throughout the district.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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