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Fox Chapel

Fox Chapel Area parents surveyed on later high school start time

Tawnya Panizzi
| Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, 1:36 p.m.

Fox Chapel Area School District parents have until Sept. 19 to weigh in on a potential plan that would see later start times for high school students.

The district is exploring the possibility of a change in class times and parents’ input will determine whether the discussion continues, school officials said.

“A survey was email blasted on Sept. 5 to all parents/guardians along with a fact sheet detailing some potential implications of changing school start times,” said Bonnie Berzonski, district coordinator of communications.

If more than half the respondents want to move forward with later start times, the district will continue to explore that move, she said.

Any decisions would consider the impact on extra sleep for students and additional costs for buses.

An independent study by Transfinder was conducted earlier this year to explore the consequences of a change in bell times. Data includes results of altering start times and shifting bus runs among the four elementary schools, Dorseyville Middle School and the high school. Results demand an additional six to 26 buses, depending on varying start times.

Results of the study are available on the district website , along with information provided by the high school PTO regarding implications of sleep.

High school students currently start their school day at 7:30 a.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , along with the American Academy of Pediatrics , recommend that middle and high schoolers start closer to 8:30 a.m., and that adolescents get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Studies show that getting more sleep could have a positive impact on teens’ academic performance.

District officials have identified three areas key to a potential change in bell times. They are safety, expense and extracurricular activities/athletics.

Creating a later start time for high school students will require that younger students start earlier, according to the study.

Elementary students could walk up to 1.5 miles to their bus stops, and seventh-12th graders could walk 2 miles — distances that are allowed by the state.

The same amount of bus pickups and drop-offs that were done in about 3 hours will now need to be compressed into about 90 minutes. Also, bus stops would need to be narrowed down from 1,380 current stops to 350-500 future stops. Buses would no longer have the time to enter housing developments.

Berzonski said the bell study includes six options. It does not consider the joint partnerships between private, parochial and school district routes which could add significant additional buses to the fleet.

The district will continue to take feedback from parents and guardians throughout the process, she said. To access the start time survey, visit bit.ly/starttimeFCASD .

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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