HEALTHY LIVING
11/19/2015 11:25 am ET | Updated Nov 23, 2015

Seattle Board Approves Later School Start Times In 'Historic' Vote

Starting in 2016, the city's public high schools will open at "times that make sense for students.”

 The Seattle school board voted Wednesday evening to delay most of its school start times past 8:30 a.m. in order to let students sleep later. The vote makes Seattle one of the largest school districts in the country to delay school starting times based on research showing that it could benefit teens' learning and health.

"We will become the largest district in the country to make this switch, and hopefully we will set a trend," Sharon Peaslee, the board's vice president, said in a statement, per King 5 News. "This is a historic moment."

The school board voted 6-1 to have the city's high schools start at 8:45 a.m. in the 2016-2017 school year. Most of the district's middle schools and some K-8 schools will also start at that time, while the remaining schools will either start at 7:55 a.m. or 9:35 a.m., according to The Seattle Times. 

“This is a great win for our students,” Peaslee said, per the Times. “We will unleash a torrent of public schools shifting to bell times that make sense for students.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school days begin after 8:30 a.m. to encourage teens to get between eight and a half and nine and a half hours of sleep a night. Few teens currently sleep that amount. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer than a third of high school students sleep eight hours a night. 

Seattle's vote makes it part of a minority of districts that are heeding the AAP's recommendations. Nationwide, the average school start time for middle and high schools is currently 8:03 a.m., according to July data from the CDC.  

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