Jan 06, 2015 07:59 PM EST

Montgomery County Public Schools: School Officials Considering Delaying School Start Time By 20 Minutes

Montgomery County Public School students may have more time to sleep in the mornings as the board of education is considering several options to change the time school starts and ends.

The Montgomery County Board of Education announced on Tuesday that Superintendent Joshua P. Starr has provided several new options to change school bell times.

According to reports, the Montgomery County Board of Education will only consider options that are cost-effective and also support a move to start school at a later time.

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr has proposed that all 24 high schools in the district delay the time school starts by 20 minutes for all students in all grades.

"I have said all along that I would like school to start later in the day in order to support the health and well-being of our students," Starr said. "But we must balance this decision against the other needs and priorities we have in the district and ensure any change to high school bell times do not place unfair burden on other students and their families."

Reports indicate that Starr has presented the board with new options to adjust school bell time. These options are estimated to cost less the $10 million yearly - a big difference from his 2013 recommendations which would have cost around $21 million annually.

The move to change the bell times of all Montgomery County Public Schools began in 2012 when parents launched an online petition proposing that schools should start at a later time because more sleep would positively affect the health and general well-being of teens.

Advocates of the move for later school start times cite scientific research which shows that due to their biological development teens usually sleep later and wake up later.

Supporters of the move have linked absenteeism, lower academic performance as well as the risk of depression and even fatal car accidents to teens being rushed out of bed.

The board is scheduled to hear a presentation on the different proposed options on Jan. 13. Meanwhile officials will collect public suggestions throughout January and into early February.

Reports indicate that by Feb. 10th the board would have settled and approved a new bell time that would be part of the 2016 budget request to the Montgomery County Executive and County Council.

"Any changes to our starting and ending times will have an impact on every student, parent and employee in Montgomery County Public Schools, so it is important that out citizens understands the options we are considering and let their voices be heard," said Patricia O'Neil, Board of Education President.

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