Cherry Creek parents weigh in on plan to change school start times

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- The Cherry Creek School District is debating whether to change school start times to benefit students' sleep schedules.

The school board held a meeting Monday night to get feedback from parents.

If approved, the district's seven high schools would start at 8:15 a.m. next school year instead of 7:10 a.m. Middle school start times would be pushed back to 8:50 a.m. from 7:50 a.m.

"I think the benefits are just going to be the kids are going to do better in school," said Sally Buller, the parent of four students in the district.

But there is a push to keep start times where they're at. Amy Hair, a parent of a first-grader, started a petition that has been signed by more than 250 people.

She's worried the changes are being made at the expense of elementary school students. To make the changes work, elementary schools would have to begin at 7:55 a.m., an hour earlier.

"I'm really worried about the safety of the kids having to get up so early and them walking to the bus, walking to school and not getting enough sleep. I just worry what it does to the community because families won't be spending as much time together," she said.

The push to delay start times for high school students is backed by science.

Numerous studies have shown students learn better when the school day starts later. In Colorado, the Boulder and Fairview school districts have pushed back start times, and both have seen grade-point averages and attendance rise.

Hair doesn't dispute that. She's worried about the impact on elementary school students.

"It seems to shift the issues that middle and high school students are having to the youngest children in the district, which doesn't seem fair," she said.

The school board will vote on the proposal to change start times at a March 13 meeting.

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