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Salt Lake City School District proposes later start times

Some members of the Salt Lake City School Board are drawing criticism after being caught sending vulgar and inappropriate messages to one another. (Photo: John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Salt Lake City School District is proposing a later start time for high schools, pointing to increased potential success in students. The board proposed Wednesday that the first bell rings at least 30 minutes later than the current start time.

“Let’s start a conversation and as a community, understand the risks that our kids are currently experiencing and talk about solutions,” said Rep. Suzanne Harrison D-Draper.

As a doctor, Harrison said she believes a later start time would help students both physically and academically.

There have been studies with doctors noting teenagers need more sleep in the morning, connecting more sleep with less depression and anxiety. It also connects to higher academic and sports performance. According to  The American Academy of Pediatrics, many physicians recommend these schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

In a report by KSL’s Deanie Wimmer at the beginning of this school year, the two main hurdles surrounding later start times are the costs of busing and the impact on extracurricular activities. It also would cause a ripple effect on all other schools in the district.

The change to high school start times could impact the starting and ending times for all schools in the district, including middle and elementary schools. Some solutions include these schools not starting until 9 a.m.

However, many in the district believe it’s a necessary change.

“There aren’t many silver bullets in life, but helping our kids get enough sleep and having that conversation about school start times may be as close as we’re going to get to a silver bullet,” Harrison said to KSL TV.

This month, the school board members will begin a listening tour throughout the district, gathering public opinions on the later start. There will be four public meetings on this proposal, with the first on Monday, Jan. 13 held at Bryant Middle School at 6 p.m.