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Canby School District polls community on middle and high school starting later, elementary starting earlier

Canby School District recently sent a feeler out in the form of a survey to determine where the community stands on the potential to adjust school start-times so that elementary students start the day earlier and middle- and high-school students start later.

The survey started by noting that currently, Canby's middle and high school students begin their day at 7:40 a.m., which the American Academy of Pediatrics says is too early.

"In fact, there is significant research that shows teenagers would biologically benefit from later start times," the survey said.

PMG FILE PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - A district survey asked parents what they thought about middle and high school starting later and elementary school starting earlier. Pictured is Baker Prairie Middle School.

The survey also noted that school districts such as Portland, Hillsboro, North Clackamas, Lake Oswego, Tigard-Tualatin and West Linn-Wilsonville are among many districts that have already made changes in this direction.

"This is really the first time we've reached out to people to get a sense of, first of all, do people even know that this research is out there?" said Autumn Foster, the district's communications coordinator and project manager. "Do they know other communities have already made these changes? And then, for us, just to say, what do you think about it?"

The survey went on to ask parents if they support adjusting school hours so middle and high school students start the day later. Of the 350 people who responded, 70.9 percent agreed or strongly agreed that middle- and high-school students should start the day later.

Specifically, the survey asked respondents how they feel about changing school hours to the following.

Elementary: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (from the current 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

Middle School: 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. (from the current 7:40 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

High School: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (from the current 7:40 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.)

For elementary, 57.4 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the potential new times; for middle school, 67.7 percent agreed or strongly agreed; and for high school, 75.7 percent agreed or strongly agreed.

The results seem to lean toward changing the times, but Foster said the response rate was far too low to provide a consensus on the matter.

"This really just reflects the opinions of the people who answered," Foster said. "From a demographic standpoint, it's certainly not representative of our community."

So with that, the school district will not make any immediate changes but will continue to engage the community throughout the upcoming school year and then hopefully make a decision after that point.

"Any change, if there were ever one to be made, would be done for the best interest of the students," Foster said.

She added, "It's very clear based on research that it's the right thing to do; we just need to make sure our community believes that as well."

Kristen Wohlers
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