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Students walked out of Woodland Elementary School in Alexandria Wednesday after school ended at 3:20 p.m. District 206 is considering changing school start and end times, which would result in Woodland students finishing their day at 2:20 p.m. next school year. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)

Changes proposed for school start and end times

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Should younger kids start and end their school day a bit earlier than teen-age students?

Alexandria School District 206 is poised to make that change.

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At its regular board meeting held December 16, the Alexandria School Board was presented with information on proposed changes to school start and end times beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

School for some elementary students could start up to an hour earlier than now while those in secondary schools would begin a half hour to 40 minutes later than their school day currently begins (see chart for details).

The proposed changes are expected to improve academic focus, provide a better fit with parent schedules, increase transportation efficiencies, and align closely with other comparable school districts.

A committee of teacher and parent representatives from each site, as well as administrators, were unanimous in their recommendation to support the proposed time changes.

The committee considered the following factors in its decision:

•Biological changes put teens naturally on a later sleep-wake cycle.

•Research findings suggest that teen-agers are substantially sleep deprived when high school classes begin before 8:15 a.m. The typical teen’s natural time to fall asleep may be 11 p.m. or later. Teen-agers need on average eight and a half to nine and one-quarter hours of sleep per night for good health and brain development.

•Sleep deprivation can have significant negative effects on learning, including the inability to concentrate, to retain information, to stay alert or be awake in class.

•Successful later high school start times have been made in Edina and Minneapolis. Study results using three years of data from these districts support the following impact on academic performance: improved attendance, less tardiness and increase in continuous enrollment.

•Earlier dismissal times at the elementary level will provide opportunities for increased academic success through after-school academic support programs.

•A later high school start time could help families with middle/high school students responsible for supervising younger siblings before school.

•A later start time at the middle school allows for 6th grade band and orchestra to occur prior to the school day starting.

For more information on the new school start and end times, go to www.alexandria.k12.mn.us/school-schedule-information.

The proposed changes will be presented to the board for a final decision at its regular meeting on January 27.

MEETINGS SET Parents are invited to learn more about the proposed changes to the school start and end times by attending one of the following meetings:

•Thursday, January 16, 5 p.m., Discovery Middle School, 510 McKay Ave N, Alexandria.

•Thursday, January 16, 7 p.m., Carlos Elementary School, 20 N Douglas Ave, Carlos.

•Tuesday, January 21, 5 p.m., District Office, 1410 South McKay Ave., Suite 201, Alexandria.

SCHOOL START and END TIMES COMPARED CURRENT                                            PROPOSED

Miltona Science Magnet 8:00-2:30     8:30-3:00

Lincoln 8:15-2:45                              8:15-2:45

Garfield 8:20-2:50                             7:55-2:25

Carlos 8:25-2:55                               7:55-2:25

Voyager & Woodland 8:50-3:20        7:50-2:20

Middle School 7:45-2:30                   8:15-2:55

High School 7:45-2:25                      8:25-3:05

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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