NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Changing middle and high school start times has been something Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell has been vocal about for years.
“We know from years of comprehensive research that prematurely early start time, particularly for adolescences, are problematic,” he said.
Data from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other national health organizations support this sentiment.
It’s recommended teens from ages 13-18 years old get around eight to 10 hours of sleep per night for good health.
“I think teachers also would benefit from more sleep as well,” said J.C. Bowman.
Bowman is the executive director of the Professional Educators of Tennessee and said a change in start times is something he believes most teachers would also be in favor of.
“I think that they’ll have a kid that’s more alert and more willing to do assignments and pay better attention in class,” he said.
However, the concerns range from impacts to athletics, to students who work after school, and bus route logistics.
“That is one of the biggest issues to resolve is what would be the impact?” said O’Connell. “Could you make an adjustment for high schools that then reduces impacts on middle and elementary school drops offs?”
In 2022, Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) filed a bill aimed at later start times that eventually failed, but said this issue is one he won’t give up on.
“I really believe in this,” he said. “I really believe our high school students are starting school way too early. It’s not good for their learning ability. It’s not good for their mental health and well being and it also creates public safety concerns.”
But until Metro Nashville Public Schools decides to make a change, not much can be done.
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“Very clearly, we do not expect to take any action on this without coordinating extremely closely with Metro Schools,” said O’Connell.
News 2 did reach out to MNPS who sent us this statement:
The district has been studying the topic of start times in recent years and does intend to further review this issue through the Metro Schools ReimaginED initiative in the future, but the focus right now has been on the successful implementation of the 5th grade transition from middle school to elementary school, which is slated to be completed in the 2024-25 school year.