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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

FCPS seeks public input on options for later school start times

The Fairfax County School Board is seeing public input on the following four options to implement later school start times for high school students:

Middle school late
  • High school hours: 8:30 a.m.-3:20 p.m.
  • Middle school: 9:30 a.m.-4:20 p.m.
  • Elementary school: starts 7:50-9:15 a.m. and ends 2:25-3:50 p.m.
  • Approximate cost: $7.6 million
  • Buses added: 60
Middle school early, elementary school 15 minutes earlier
  • High school: starts 8:10-8:20 a.m. and ends 3-3:10 a.m.
  • Middle school: 7:20 a.m.-2:10 p.m.
  • Elementary school: starts 7:45-9:10 a.m. and ends 2:20-3:45 p.m.
  • Approximate cost: $4.6 million
  • Buses added: 38
Middle school/high school flip
  • High school: starts 7:50-8:20 a.m. and ends 2:40-2:50 p.m.
  • Middle school: 7:20 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Secondary schools: start at 7:50 or 8:20 a.m., with other high schools starting at 8 or 8:10 a.m.
  • Elementary school: keep current schedule, starting 8-9:20 a.m. and ending 2:40-4 p.m.
  • Approximate cost: $5.6 million
  • Buses added: 46
High school later
  • High school: 9:15 a.m.-4:05 p.m.
  • Middle school: starts 8:20-8:30 a.m. and ends 3:10-3:50 a.m. (one middle school would start at 9 a.m.)
  • Elementary school: starts 7:40-9:15 a.m. and ends 2:20-3:50 p.m.
  • Approximate cost: $2.8 million
  • Buses added: 25
FCPS will conduct a community engagement process to obtain feedback on those scenarios in late May and early June. Meeting dates haven’t been set yet. Final recommendations will be presented to the school board in July.

The parent advocacy group SLEEP (Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal) has been working to get FCPS to adopt later start times for high schools since 2004. The group cites research showing that teens need more sleep in the mornings to function effectively in school. More time for sleep in the morning promotes students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and safety. 

Currently, high schools start at 7:20 a.m., which means some students start boarding buses at 5:45 a.m.

In 2012, the school board adopted a resolution calling for FCPS to seek a solution to allow high schools to start at 8 a.m. or later.

The school board awarded a contract to the Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) in March 2013 to develop a proposal to achieve this goal. CNMC’s Division of Sleep Medicine worked with a stakeholder committee to develop several workable scenarios. Those scenarios were presented to the school board on April 23, and the board decided to seek feedback from the community on four of them.


  1. How much more time, resources do we need to waste on this crap! no matter who starts late, someone needs to start early. So who is closer to facing the daily reality of getting a job and waking up early to get to work?
    Why do we keep spining our wheels? Just bc a small group of wako parents doesn't get what they want..we keep at it?

  2. I think that starting later is a benefit to HS students. But why on earth would it cost millions of dollars & additional buses?

  3. Waste of money……political pandering to a vocal interest group….I am not so sure about elected school boards. They have become pandering and overtly political…elected school boards were sold on the idea that they would be non-political.
    Look at all the required party "endorsements" during election. Our school system is not forging ahead…only TJ gets advanced science while the rest of the country thinks up innovative ways to satisfy all science-oriented students- $90M for TJ?????
    this bus change is a total waste of money that could be used for better purposes. I would think the middle schools would need more sleep than high school.
    Also, this flip would put younger kids out in the dark earlier.
    Bad idea. Happy pandering Sandy Evans.
    How about dealing with real problems: like Poe and its problems,
    or getting some of our kids into TJ, or
    stop talking about us as "urban" with all the
    self-fulfilling prophecy that entails.
    Pandering pandering pandering, costing our county untold millions. (It usually costs more.)

    1. Just happened to think…these buses will involve not only an initial cost, but the cost of bus drivers, maintenance, parking, fuel EACH YEAR rising with inflation..
      Perhaps it is good for high schoolers to learn that sometimes they have to accommodate their schedule- like shift workers do…we cannot protect our children from real life…they need to learn to adapt.