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Legislature Considering Bill to Start High School an Hour Later

Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public/file
Students John Shea, Adam Savage and Kaden Roman study math at Cornville Regional High School, in September of 2016.

Maine high schools would have to start later in the morning under a measure before the Legislature’s Education Committee.

Brunswick Democratic Rep. Matthea Daughtry says studies show teens are often not getting enough sleep because of the 7:30 a.m. start time of many high schools. She’s proposing legislation that would delay the start of the academic day till 8:30 a.m. instead.

“Research has shown that sleep deprivation in teens can cause some frightening side effects. Teens who are sleep deprived have reduced academic performance. The more tired a teen is, the more their grades will slip,” she says.”

The Maine Principals Association opposes the bill because of the disruption and cost for rural school districts. That’s because in smaller districts, elementary and high school students often share the same buses and buildings.

“We are open to the conversation and we believe that it is much more doable presently in some parts of the state than it is in the others. And I would hate to see mandates put in place that would take away opportunities in the more rural parts of the state,” says Dick Durost, executive director of the MPA.

The group says it should be up to local school districts and not the state to determine what time to start the school day.