NJ considers later start for middle, high schools

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The New Jersey Assembly has given final legislative approval for a study of the benefits — and potential problems — of a later start for middle schools and high schools.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a later start to the school day for teens who end up being tired because they have trouble falling asleep before 11 at night, said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.

“Teens are falling asleep on the bus, they’re falling asleep in class, and those teens who are driving early in the morning because they haven’t had enough sleep,” said Jasey, D-Essex. “It’s very dangerous.”

But changing the start time of the school day could raise transportation concerns, said Assemblyman Dan Benson.

“Parents want to be able to drop off their kids before going to work. Depending on when that start date is, that can negatively impact that, but a later start date at the end of the day could be a net positive,” said Benson, D-Mercer. “Oftentimes we’re looking for other activities that can keep children around until a parent can pick up, and there’s day care issues.”

If Gov. Chris Christie signs the legislation, the state Education Department study would evaluate how a later start would affect student transportation and after-school sports and activities.

It would also include a recommendation on whether to establish a pilot program for testing the later start time in schools willing to participate.

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