State board explores options for school start times

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Conversation resumed about the high school start time draft regulation during the Nevada State Board of Education’s first meeting of the year Jan. 10.

Board members were concerned that the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s legal division had not yet responded to its submission in writing.

The proposed regulation to set guidelines and guardrails for high schools in all districts and charter schools within Nevada that now begin before 8 a.m. to provide alternative options to families and students has not received a reply from the LCB since the State Board’s last major discussion during its October meeting.

The draft regulation language that had been updated as of September presents several sections, with its key section noting that gradual implementation would begin by the 2025-26 school year and 35% of high schools within each district and charter schools would start later than 8 a.m. After each school year, an additional 25% of high schools would be required to provide options until all high schools align with the regulation or have received a waiver from the board.

But Board President Felicia Ortiz said this was the first time the board had not been notified by the LCB of any issues on its draft regulations.

“That typically means they don’t agree with our authority or have some issue with the language,” Ortiz said, referring to Deputy Attorney David Gardner for guidance on next steps.

Member Maggie Carlton, former lawmaker who represented Clark County, advised Gardner to request a verbal opinion from the LCB for any barriers that might cause any delays on the matter.

“It’s the workload, it’s what happens at the end of the (legislative) session, it’s all the (Nevada Revised Statute) changes that have to happen in January, all the new laws,” Carlton said.

Member Michael Keyes of Las Vegas, a student representing the Nevada Association of Student Councils, spoke about how a change in a start time at his school from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. significantly impacted his mood and focus on classes.

“Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports correlation between adequate sleep and academic performance and many proposals don’t refute this,” Keyes said. “Despite acknowledging this research, they still fight to keep the unhealthy and outdated practices of early start times.”

The American Academy of Pediatricians in August 2014 had recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to make sure students are receiving an adequate amount of sleep. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average start time for schools in Nevada is between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. from data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Keyes added as family activities and jobs cut into schedules, they’re less likely to care about state or federal requirements and later start times would be more beneficial for personal health. He later suggested that the board reach out to the districts as a compromise instead of presenting a “constant battle” on imposing a regulation to districts or schools who felt a stringent demand to make changes to their start times.

“Education isn’t just about grades but about nurturing well-rounded individuals,” he said.

Member and Superintendent Tate Else of Eureka County School District said the Nevada Association of School Superintendents unanimously is opposed to the regulation.

Member Tim Hughes said clarity is needed and to keep the conversation going with stakeholders.

The board discussed following up with a survey to collect feedback at the district superintendents’ discretion to gather feedback from families, students and educators.


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