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11-14-14 Education Issues in the News

Star Ledger - N.J. Senate panel clears bill to have state study starting school day later


By Matt Friedman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The Star-Ledger
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on November 13, 2014 at 10:58 AM, updated November 13, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Trenton— The state Senate’s education committee this morning unanimously endorsed a bill that would direct the state Department of Education to study the idea of requiring New Jersey middle and high schools to start their days after 8:30 a.m.

The department would be required to consider the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics to institute later start times for adolescents, which cited research showing that teens who don’t get enough sleep “suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance.”

It would also be required to take into account “any potential negative impacts on school districts and families that may be associated with a later start time and consider strategies for addressing potential problems,” as well as what happened in districts that have already instituted later start times.

Once the study is complete, the department would submit it to the governor and Legislature along with a recommendation of whether to create a pilot program to start the day later at select schools.

The bill (S2484) faced no opposition from witnesses at the committee hearing, though Melanie Schulz, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said her organization believes it should be up to individual school districts to decide when they want to open. But because the bill was merely to study the pros and cons of the idea, the organization supported it.

Schulz said Pemberton Township schools Superintendent Mike Gorman moved back its start time for adolescents “a couple years ago,” and found good results, but he was forced to roll it back.

“He found there was greater participation in the honor roll, less absenteeism, but there was such an outcry from the parents that they had to pull back and change it,” Schulz said.

Schulz said that some parents had complained that their teens were unable to take care of younger siblings in the afternoon.

State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), the bill’s sponsor, said he’s heard objections that it would hurt school sports programs.

“I think that’s malarkey,” he said.

The committee’s chairwoman, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), said the bill is “starting us on a conversation that needs to be had.”

There's no comprehensive list of school start times in New Jersey. But The American Academy of Pediatrics said that 40 percent of high schools nationally start before 8a.m., while just 15 percent start after 8:30 a.m.

Codey conducted a survey of his own legislative district, which includes parts of Essex and Morris Counties, and found ten of its 12 public high schools begin their days before 8:00 a.m.

Matt Friedman may be reached at mfriedman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattFriedmanSL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


NJ Spotlight - Backlash by Kids, Parents Among Obstacles to Later Start to Classes…As Senate panel OKs study, one school chief describes how short-lived change in his district impacted after-school jobs and sports teams

John Mooney | November 14, 2014


Hopes were high when Pemberton Township two years ago decided to start high-school classes at 8:15 a.m., an hour later than before. It would result in fresher students, more open schedules…What could go wrong?

But a year later, the schedule went back to 7:15 a.m., the later start time having fallen victim to logistics and emotional reactions in response to the impact the change had on everything from family schedules to the football team.

Related Links


Fine Print: Bill Would Study Possible Benefits of Later Start Times for Schools

“What I thought would be very well received was in fact very poorly received,” said Michael Gorman, the Burlington County district’s school chief.

It’s a hot topic of late and one that’s even the focus of legislative deliberations: Should New Jersey schools start a little later in the day to give students a chance to wake up and smell the coffee before diving into their studies?

A bill calling on the state Department of Education to study such a change was passed yesterday by the state Senate’s education committee.

Sponsored by state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), the bill is aimed to address concerns about the growing problem of sleep deprivation among teenagers and what it’s doing to their studies. A variety of recent reports, including one from the American Academy of Pediatrics, have touted the benefit of later starts in the school day.

But in testimony before the committee yesterday, several advocates of the change, as well as others representing school groups, said it’s one thing to ordain a later start and another to actually put it in place.

A prime exhibit was the experience at Pemberton’s 1,100-student high school.

At the time of the change in the school-opening time, Gorman said, he was excited at the prospect, as more and more research was affirming the positive effect getting more sleep could have on the ability to learn.

“If I had my way, it would be10 a.m.,” Gorman said, only half in jest.

And the early results of the schedule change in Pemberton were indeed positive. The honor roll saw a boost in membership, he said, and discipline incidents saw a slight decline. The rate of tardiness didn’t change much, but Gorman said that was to be expected. Overall, the early results appeared to be positive.

But then the grown-ups began to complain. The later starts had an impact on after-school sports practices, specifically when the football team was forced to practice under the lights. Similarly, students working after-school jobs were pressed to make it to their jobs on time.

And then there was the matter of child care.

“The one that broke the camel’s back was parents who said that when younger kids were coming home, they really needed their older siblings to be there to take care of them,” he said.

With dozens of families speaking out at board meetings, the board ultimately reversed the change.

“From a community standpoint, it just didn’t sell very well,” Gorman said.

Yesterday, the superintendent said he wasn’t against the intent of Codey’s bill, and that he appreciates the attention being paid to the issue. But he predicted it will likely be a long road to a statewide mandate.

“While I’m an advocate for the later start -- and an example of its failure -- we really need to have a body of research around it, and also answers to how you get around the logistics of this,” Gorman said. “This is really what killed it here.”


Allergy med bill for New Jersey schools advances

Thursday, November 13, 2014 1:11 pm | Updated: 9:20 pm, Thu Nov 13, 2014.

Allergy med bill for New Jersey schools advances Associated Press |

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Schools in New Jersey might have to keep a supply of allergy medications on hand.

A state Senate committee on Thursday advanced a bill that seeks to address the growing number of school-age children with food allergies.

The measure would also allow school nurses or other trained officials to give the treatment.

Under current law, school officials must have parent authorization before giving epinephrine to students suffering from an allergic reaction.

Lawmakers, however, say it's possible for allergic reactions to develop among students for the first time during school hours.

A Centers for Disease Control study has shown that 1 in 20 children in the U.S. have food allergies, which is a 50 percent increase from the 1990s.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608