Battle Ground school days shifted 30 minutes later

Officials hope to benefit drowsy students




There’s been a great run in pop culture, lately, for zombies of all kinds.

But, Battle Ground school leaders don’t want to see them in classrooms every day. So, they’ve agreed to push school start times back 30 minutes for the upcoming school year, the district has announced.

Each school day will begin and end 30 minutes later than in 2010-11 — save for Amboy Middle and Yacolt Primary schools, where bus schedule demands will push start-and-end times back 20 minutes.

A district news release on Thursday cites studies that show millions of U.S. middle- and high-school students are sleep-deprived most days.

Medical research indicates that, typically, children cannot fall asleep much before 11 p.m., “and their brains remain in sleep mode until about 8 a.m., regardless of what time they go to bed.” (The district describes studies of Minneapolis, Minn.-area pupils.)

What’s more, federal highway analysis shows that drowsiness and fatigue contribute to more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year, with teen drivers involved more than half the time.

Combine the evidence — and search no further than neighboring Hockinson School District, where high school students don’t start first period until 9 a.m. (younger Hockinson pupils start at 8:45 a.m.) — and there’s a compelling case to start every school day a bit later, said Superintendent Shonny Bria.

“Much of the population of middle- and high school students is sleep-deprived,” Bria said in the prepared statement. At such early hours, “we would rather have them sleeping at home than in school,” she said.

Starting on Sept. 7, no Battle Ground school will begin first period prior to the 8 a.m. start times for Battle Ground and Prairie high schools. Yacolt Primary School will be last to begin each day, running 9:20 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.

The district quoted Cornell University psychologist James B. Maas, considered one of the country’s top sleep experts.

Said Maas, “Almost all teenagers, as they reach puberty, become walking zombies because they are getting far too little sleep. You can be giving the most stimulating, interesting lectures to sleep-deprived kids early in the morning or right after lunch, when they’re at their sleepiest, and the overwhelming drive to sleep replaces any chance of alertness, cognition, memory or understanding.”

The district said it considered staggered start times for primary and middle schools, but busing logistics proved too daunting and costly. Only a universal shift would be cost-neutral, the district said.

For a complete Battle Ground school bell schedule:

Howard Buck: 360-735-4515 or