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Bend-La Pine students will have new school start times next year

Beginning is September 2019, Bend-La Pine elementary schools will start around 8am and high school classes around 8:45 am. - SUBMITTED
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  • Beginning is September 2019, Bend-La Pine elementary schools will start around 8am and high school classes around 8:45 am.

A number of studies on the adolescent brain have concluded that teenagers benefit from starting school later in the morning. That's a primary reason behind Bend-La Pine Schools' recent decision to adjust school start times across the district.

At its Oct. 9 Board of Directors meeting, Superintendent Shay Mikalson announced that start times for elementary and secondary schools across the district will change.

"Because our students' physical health, emotional well-being and academic success are our priorities, the district has decided to change school start times,"Mikalson stated in a press release. "Beginning in September 2019, elementary and secondary start times will essentially flip."

Right now, middle and high school students in BLPS start as early as 7:30am, while elementary students start at 8:30 or after. But other Oregon districts including Eugene, Medford, Portland and Hillsboro have recognized the benefit for pushing back start times for older kids, district officials said. Next year, BLPS secondary schools will start at 8:45am and end around 3:45pm, and elementary schools will start around 8am and end around 2:30pm. On early release Wednesdays, secondary schools will get out at 2pm, and elementary schools at 1pm.

While some parents have already expressed concern about how this will affect after-school child care and other activities, district officials say they made the decision after two years of decision making that included a number of public meetings, a community survey with more than 5,000 responses and input from its Start Time Advisory Committee.

"Changing school start times is not a decision we made lightly," Mikalson stated. "Rather, this is a decision based on what we believe best serves our students today and into the future."

Beginning in September 2019, Bend-La Pine elementary schools will start around 8am and high school classes around 8:45am.


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