Should Coeur d’Alene schools have later start times? Why the district is considering

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A team of parents, teachers, and experts at the Coeur d’Alene School District are exploring the idea of starting classes later in the day.

Many teens have trouble falling asleep early, something the CDC says isn’t their fault. Biological rhythms during puberty are to blame.

Multiple studies show that later start times lead to better health and overall school performance, which is why Coeur d’Alene schools are considering the idea.

Constance Bond says her 10th grade son is by no means an early bird.

“I can see him struggling, trying to get his brain to engage because it’s still groggy,” said Bond.

But being a student in Coeur d’Alene, he’s expected to be in class and engaged by 7:35 each morning.

According to the CDC, if young adults don’t get enough sleep, they can struggle in school and have a higher risk of depression, weight gain, and substance abuse.

It’s why districts all over the country have switched to later start times.

“The research is pretty clear that it has a positive impact on students, so our school board and our community started taking a look at it for that reason,” said Seth Deniston with the Coeur d’Alene School District.

So a committee of parents, teachers, bus drivers, and other experts are looking at other options.

“You have kind of a little change, which we represented with all of our schools back a half hour,” said Deniston. “You’ve got a big change, which would mean all of our schools moving back an hour.”

A third option is to flip high school and elementary school start times. The first bell for K-5 students could ring at 7:50 a.m. and 9 a.m. for high schoolers.

While it could benefit teens, with younger students ending the day at 2:20 p.m., it could make things harder for parents needing childcare.

The committee will be sending a survey to parents to get their kids on the later start.

Then, they’ll submit their recommendations to the school board in March.