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Long Beach middle schools to begin classes later in the morning

March 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Long Beach Unified School District approved a plan Monday to move class starting time up to 9 a.m. for middle schools.

School days will begin this fall at 9 a.m. for each of the district's middle schools and end at 3:40 p.m.

McBride High School, a new school, will also have its start time moved ahead one hour as part of a pilot program. The other high schools in the district will not have their schedules affected.

The school board unanimously approved the plan, which is expected to save about $1 million.

School officials believe the change could also boost student success.

Hamilton Middle School is one of 10 middle schools in Long Beach that start the school day at 8:40 a.m., so the change won't be as drastic, but five other middle schools start instruction at 8.

By next fall classes at every middle school in the Long Beach Unified School District will start at 9 a.m., and instruction will end at 3:40 p.m. The change comes after a unanimous vote by the Long Beach School Board.

The district says the 9 a.m. start time is a way to save money. Experts say the extra sleep will help with academics. But some parents say this is only going to complicate their lives.

Chris Eftychiou is a district spokesman. He says the move will save the district a million dollars a year in transportation costs, by staggering bus schedules.

"There's going to be some adjustment period there," said Eftychiou. "Because of the variety of schedules we had, we had become less efficient than we could be if we had more standardized schedules."

"You have to coordinate your child care. If you're a working parent you have to coordinate your drop-offs. With an hour split between drop-offs, what are you going to do with your other kid after you drop them off?" said Pam Teeter, a mother in the district.

But some experts say extra sleep helps with academics.

"The research shows that teenagers can get a good night's sleep if they get up about 8 in the morning, and if school started at 8:30 or 9, they probably could get the sleep they need," said Terra Ziporyn Snider, executive director and co-founder of Start School Later Inc.

A committee will make a recommendation to the board by next year to see if it should be implemented in all high schools. The change currently only affects middle schools beginning in the fall.


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