Allegheny County

Upper St. Clair School District proposes change to start time for students

UPPER ST. CLAIR, Pa. — The Upper St. Clair School District is planning to push school start times back starting in the 2023-24 school year.

The motivation stems from research that shows students, specifically in high school, do better with later start times.

Kurt Baran, a high school freshman, is excited and ready for what the district plans to implement this fall, with school start times pushed back 30 minutes.

“Going to school in the morning, everyone’s exhausted and just trying to wake up and it will be a lot better environment if we can just be awake and alert during the first couple hours of school,” Baran said.

High school students will now start at 8 a.m., elementary students at 8:35 a.m. and middle school students at 8:55 a.m.

The plans were laid out in detail during the school district’s meeting Monday night. Tuesday, parents found out about the planned change when the superintendent sent out an email stating the following:

“One of the key changes planned for the new school year is an adjustment to school start times. For at least three decades, our district has explored the possibility of a later start for our high school students to better align with research relative to what’s best for children/adolescents. We are committed to making this happen beginning this fall.”

Dr. Gary Swanson is a child and adolescent psychiatrist for Allegheny Health Network. He said research proves students who have earlier start times suffer the consequences.

“They have a harder time in their morning classes and their overall academic performance,” said Dr. Swanson. “They’re more likely to be late, they’re more likely to miss classes and also have a decreased ability to learn and retain material. They don’t participate as much in class and they don’t do as well on decision-making tasks.”

The district has asked parents for input via an online form. The final recommendation for the change to school start times will be presented for approval at the May school board meeting.

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