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Committee being formed to study school start times at Hampton

| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 2:39 p.m.

A committee will review whether there are academic benefits to delaying the start of the day for Hampton Township High School students.

The decision was made following discussion on the matter at the Feb. 5 school board meeting.

This announcement was a follow-up to last month's presentation by local expert Dr. Peter Franzen on sleep deprivation among teens and the benefits of starting high school later.

Gail Litwiler, school board member and chair to the educational programs, presented the idea to other board members at the recent meeting.

Litwiler said there will be a two-step process.

First, a small committee made up of district leaders and one or two board members will first investigate if it's academically beneficial to implement a delay in school start times, which will include getting feedback from students.

She said if what they find deems it's not worth further investigation, then there would be no more action.

“If that were the case, we would drop it right there,” she said.

However, if the feedback they gather shows there is a benefit to adjusting the start of the day and recommends looking into it more, they will move on to the next step where a committee investigates all of the logistics, possible scenarios and other details.

Litwiler said Dr. Michael Loughead, superintendent to the school district, has offered to lead the committee.

Loughead added that Franzen's presentation was “very compelling” and informative. At the same time, he said it was also important to investigate other resources, including differing points of view.

Franzen, an assistant professor of psychology at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Science of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is a local expert on the subject and presented research and studies done on the subject at the high school last month.

Loughead said he appreciated Franzen encouraging the district to do what's best suited for them and not because another community does it.

“I think it's worth taking our time and seeing it through,” said Loughead.

Working with student and parent groups would be part of the process, especially interviewing high schoolers on their thoughts and sleep behaviors, he said.

“Most of the feedback needs to be done from students and parents,” said Pam Lamagna, school board member.

They hope to get feedback from the first committee within a few months.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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