Bucks County Herald

Teen sleep studies catalyst for conversation at Palisades meeting

CLIFF LEBOWITZ

Off and running in the new school year, the Palisades board of school directors is already engaging several issues of special interest to parents, including one that was originally taken up just three years ago.

At its Sept. 6 public meeting, apparently responding to recent “articles” on the subject, the board entertained discussion of whether it should conduct “a further feasibility study on the issue of school day start time,” which would feature new opportunity for “teens to sleep in.”

The impetus for the change for teens was said to be based on research that concluded significant benefits, which several board members indicated they wanted to hear more about, including peer-reviewed presentations. However, because of the influence of such a change on busing, all the students would have to change their school day start time, and concern was raised the first time around on this in 2014, that it would cause the youngest of the district students to be out in the dark more.

In addition to such intra-district consideration, discussion also revealed inter-district concerns. Examples were district vo-tech students who attend Upper Bucks County Technical School, which Palisades shares with the Pennridge and Quakertown Community school districts, which have their own ideas about school day start times. Similarly, Palisades student athletes would still have to show up at the appointed times for games and other events with various other districts. In conclusion, the matter was referred to the board’s Education Program and Services Committee, whose open meeting dates and times are posted on the district website.

Parents attending the Sept. 6 meeting also raised concerns about what they regarded as excessive turnover in district coaching ranks, creating significant disturbance among student athletes and making the athletic program less attractive overall. During discussion with directors, staff agreed that instituting exit interviews might be a good way to investigate the issue. Exit interviews are already conducted when a member of the faculty or administrative staff leaves the district.

In addition, one parent was vexed by district online learning protocol regarding changes, under certain circumstances, from outsourced faculty to in-house staff, and subsequent influence on customized learning pacing. In response, staff emphasized adherence to the highest learning standard as the primary guiding principle, while inviting parents to contact them about particular concerns.

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