Over the last several years, much discussion has been happening related to when schools should start for different age groups, with the main recommendation being that students in grades 6-12 should start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m.  This conversation started when overwhelming research was published about how teenage sleep is directly linked to mental, social, and academic health and wellbeing.  It was also sparked by the many government, health, and educational organizations who have put out statements publicly supporting this matter.  To name a few, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, and National Education Association all endorse this change to school start times due to the positive impact it has on teens.

Seeing the research on this educational issue, the RSU 1 School Board, in the spring of 2019, tasked a mixed group of RSU 1 teachers, administrators, students, nurses, and community members to look more closely at this issue.  This group researched the impact school start time had on student performance and student health, as well as the logistics and considerations such a shift would involve.  In addition to reading the relevant research, the group also heard from the district’s doctor and school nurse on this issue.  Given the worry our society has around mental health, this committee found the research to be a very compelling change that could better RSU 1’s student population. 

This  Advisory Committee shared their recommendation with the School Board later in the spring of 2019.  They advised the School Board to seriously consider further looking into a schedule change because of the direct, positive, and indisputable impacts such a shift has on students’ overall academic achievement and mental and physical wellbeing.  The School Board, in turn, voted to create the School Start Time Logistics and Communications Committee for the 19-20 school year.

Before this work was cut short by the pandemic in early 2020, this group held themed meetings, each related to the logistical concerns surrounding a future School Board decision on this issue.  Meetings about transportation, athletics, vocational programming, along with leaders in these areas, took place before the shutdown.  After a long pause, the School Board decided this topic was important enough to circle back to in the fall of 2023.

During the nearly three years of the pandemic, many states have started discussing legislation on this topic.  California and Florida now both have state laws requiring their high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 am.  Maine, within its LD 1002 Resolve, has a subcommittee meeting on this issue who will report back to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee in February 2024 to determine if the state would like to consider a move similar to California and Florida.  

Once reconvened, RSU 1’s Start Time Logistics and Communications Committee set forth the following work plan for the next two years.  Monthly, this group continues to collect information on the impacts of flipping the elementary start time to between the 7:50-8:00 am range and the secondary start range to be between 8:30-8:45 am.  The group plans to meet monthly around different logistical issues to provide documentation on the benefits and challenges such a change would have across different areas of the community.  For instance, those from the athletic, childcare, workforce, staff unions, and Bath Tech sending schools are just a few of the many groups who will be asked to share their thoughts.  Also crucial, RSU 1 families and students will be surveyed to collect their opinions on the matter and public, community conversations will take place on this topic as well.  

The School Board wants to hear from all parts of the community so they can make the best decision for the district.  All the collected information will be presented to the School Board, in the spring of 2024, so they can determine how they would like to move forward.  Should they vote to change the start times, the new times would impact the 2025-2026 school year to provide RSU 1, Bath Tech’s sending schools, and all other community parties with time to put new plans into place.

To read the sleep research supporting this movement across the US, click here.

To watch a short video summarizing this research, click here.