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School Start-Time Committee: More Time Needed for Study

The Westport school systems committee studying the controversial issue of adolescent sleep time and school starting times says it needs six to nine additional months for its work.

In a progress report prepared for MondayҒs Board of Education meeting, the School Start-Time Committee said it agrees that adolescents need more sleep, that the issue is complex and multi-faceted, and that scientific evidence is inconclusive.

The scientific literature does not provide a clear answer regarding school start time,Ӕ the committee said.

It also agreed that the community needs to understand the problem and be actively involved with determining a solution.Ӕ

To deal effectively with this issue will require more time,Ӕ the committee said. It said if the Board agrees, it would issue a final report between July and October 2004, depending on the pace of its remaining work.

The committee, co-chaired by Dan Sullivan, principal of Greens Farms Elementary School, and Angela Wormser, principal of Bedford Middle School, has met 10 times since Sept. 30.

Its charge is to examine, develop and make recommendations for school start time for all Westport schools.

It was formed after the Board of Education this year ordered classes at Coleytown Middle School and Coleytown Elementary School to start half an hour earlier to save money on transportation costs.

The cost-saving measure produced an outcry from parents and was hotly debated during the recent Board of Education election.

In its progress report, the committee suggested that the issue was even more complex than the educators initially believed.

ғAs we learn more about the topic, more areas of issues appear, the report said.

The committee said its remaining tasks included reviewing parent and staff surveys from Coleytown Elementary and Coleytown Middle School and conducting community forums.

It also said it wanted to calculate costs and implications of various start-time options as well as conduct a ԓscientifically randomized telephone survey to determine community support for various school start time options.

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