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Debate continues around later start times for middle, high schools

The Fayetteville-Manlius School District have been in talks recently to discuss the option of adjusting their school times to a later start time, including hiring an outside consultant to learn more on the effects of a later start time.

Schools in 46 states have already made the change or will change in the next school year, including the Ithaca City School District who shifted from a 7:55 a.m. start time to an 8:30 a.m. start time about a decade ago.

In that 10 years, the district found a 20% jump in their graduation rate.

“Ten years ago, our graduation rate was about 78%,” said Ithaca’s School Board President Rob Ainslie. “Now we’re in the mid-90’s. So did changing the start time do all that? Well, it’s part of a piece. It was part of rearranging the school day.”

Ainslie said that the decision to change the districts start time went through multiple meetings, as well as work sessions around the topic and feedback from the community, parents, and educators.

However, there were some drawbacks found in the shift due to other Central New York districts that don’t follow the same schedule, one being students that play after school sports.

“Kids would be missing their final period to get you know, on the bus with the team to go,” said Ainslie. “So you’re missing school because you’re not coordinated with other districts. ”

No matter the coordination issue, Ainslie said that the district is not having any discussions about reversing the start time.

He added that though it can seem daunting to take on a change like this, it’s worth it.
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