Gov. O'Malley Orders Study on Maryland School Start Times

Parents and students in Maryland could eventually be able to snooze a little longer.

Gov. Martin O'Malley is asking for a study to find out the best times for that first school bell to ring.

Getting kids to school in the morning can be a hassle, and the students aren't alone in that sleepy haze. "I have issues getting myself out the door sometimes," said parent Julie Kirsch.

Teens' circadian rhythms typically run on a later cycle than those of adults and children, although many have to wake up early to take the bus. The later start times could fall more in sync with their own sleep patterns, and proponents say more rest could lead to better learning throughout the school day.

Many parents outside North Chevy Chase Elementary School on Thursday morning said they're on board.

"That some many studies have shown that they need more sleep, and I remember being a teenager, and wishing I could sleep 12 hours," said Kirsch. "...I've read a lot about productivity about education, about getting better grades, about having more energy, being able to do more with sports and physical activities when you have more sleep."

But other parents have previously pointed out that if the school day starts later, so will after-school activities -- meaning that kids will be out later, and going to bed later.

"...[T]heir practices are from 4 to 6:30," said Montgomery County parent Vivian Kassman. "So I don't know how, if this went into effect, how that would change the practice times."

In Montgomery County, there's already a push to move the beginning of the high school day from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. The Montgomery County School Board will take up the issue next month, but the governor's proposal could make any decision irrelevant with a state-wide standard.

O'Malley wants the Office of Public Health Services to determine the best times for schools to start their days. High schools have the most to gain; the state could impose a start time of 8 a.m. at the earliest.

The governor has requested the results of the study by Dec. 31.


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