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Wheaton Parents, Students Sign Start-School-Later Petition

Check out the latest information on the Start School Later movement in Montgomery County.

The movement to push back public school start times in Montgomery County may have its widest support in the Potomac and Bethesda areas, according to a study analyzing the Start School Later Montgomery County petition.

Six percent of petition signers came from the Wheaton and Kensington areas.

The petition urging a later school start time of 8:15 a.m. gathered more than 10,000 signatures in 12 weeks through the fall of 2012 and early January 2013.  According to a report released today by the Lloyd Society, a nonprofit research center, support for the petition came from across Montgomery County and corresponded with population distribution.

Twenty-seven percent of petition-signers came from the Rockville and Potomac areas, and another 25 percent came from Bethesda and Chevy Chase. Silver Spring and Takoma Park residents made up 21 percent of petition-signers. Other supporters came from Gaithersburg, Germantown, Olney and northern parts of the county.

Read the Start School Later blog post about the recent study on Patch here.

"In studies and in our own family, I've seen the effects of sleep deprivation on teens whose body clocks can't adjust to falling asleep by 9 or 10 p.m.," said one commenter from Wheaton, according to the report.

A Kensington commenter had this to say: "I have two teens in high school, one of whom is on the verge of failure because she is struggling with sleep issues. Both kids have to get up at 5:45 am to be there for their buses in the dark! Small children wake up readily and are accompanied to the bus stop and to school. Recognize the teen issues and change the policy!"

Some 1.6 percent of the petition signers were not Montgomery County residents.

“Signers included school faculty and staff, students, parents of students, sleep experts, doctors and mental health professionals,” the report stated. “Of the few residing outside the county, some currently teach in Montgomery County Public Schools. Others have family members in the county, are former MCPS students or parents or are health practitioners that treat county residents.”

As a result of the petition, presented to the MCPS Board of Education on Dec. 11, Superintendent Joshua Starr established a work group to study the possibility of later school start times in the county.

"This is a very complex issue and I want to make sure we have a full understanding of the impact that school bell times have on student achievement and other areas of development," Starr said, announcing the work group. “A change in school bell times would affect every student in Montgomery County, and would have a significant impact on our budget and operations.”

Read more about the fight to start school later and join in the Patch poll on whether schools should start later on Potomac Patch.

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