ONALASKA, WI (WXOW)—Studies have shown adolescents perform better in school if they have a later start time because they get more sleep.
With that in mind, the Onalaska School District is considering putting that theory to the test by flip flopping elementary school start times with middle and high school start times.
Zoe De Boer, Onalaska Middle School Eighth Grade Student, begins her day at six in the morning waking up and getting ready for school.
"I come to school," De Boer said. "I have math first, after lunch we have reading music, study."
Her day doesn't end there.
"I have stuff pretty much everyday," she said. "I have show choir, I have voice lessons, which isn't through school. Church on Wednesday. Jazz band."
When she finally gets home, she's up doing homework until about ten.
Superintendent Fran Finco said that's pretty typical.
"What we're hearing from parents is elementary kids get up before high school," Finco said. "If you have youngsters and old ones, old ones seem to want to sleep in later. Why is that?Because they're doing things later at night and elementary kids tend to go to bed earlier."
Dr. Charles Peters said rolling teens' alarm clocks back 20 minutes to an hour can make a difference at school.
"They tend to be tired during the day and feel like they're going to nod off and not perform as well academically," Peters said.
He said generally, teens need between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep.
"One way to find out if you are getting enough sleep is on the weekends if you're waking up at your usual time then you're likely getting enough sleep," Peters said. "If you're sleeping several hours longer than maybe you aren't."
But giving Onalaska teens an extra hour of sleep in the morning means they'll finish school later and that impacts other things.
"How many times are you going to leave early if you have co curricular activities?" Finco said. "Is that going to be a problem?"
The district also has to figure out what to do with elementary students for an extra hour as they wait for their ride home.
No decisions have been made so far.
The Onalaska School Board will discuss the change again during their first meeting next month.
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