Montgomery Co. students, parents push for later school start time

From a petition to a work group, Montgomery County is taking a serious look at changing the start time for public high school students from 7:20 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. or later. With more than 10,000 signatures of support on an online petition, the issue has grabbed the attention of a Maryland lawmaker.

If you’re a high school student in the county, chances are you wake up early.

“I wake up at 5:30 a.m.,” said Springbrook High School senior Naikia Elliott.

“I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to catch my bus,” added Taylor Sobota.

Elliott makes it in time before the bell rings at 7:20 a.m., but she says the wake-up call usually takes its toll in the classroom.

“Some of the students actually sleep in class," she explained.

“I’ve just been thinking this is crazy," said Michael Rubinstein, a parent. “I went to school in Montgomery County. Our school didn’t start anywhere near this early.”

He’s just one of many supporters behind a push to move high school start times to 8:15 a.m. or later.

“We collected about 10,000 signatures in just the first four weeks and the excitement has really built,” he added.

The school system has created a work group to evaluate the issue, and now Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller is on board as well.

“To expect students to be out there even earlier than parent get up to go to work is a little unreasonable,” said Miller.

She hopes the state can also weigh in.

“The intent of this bill is to set up a task force to take a look at the reasonable parameters in which the state of Maryland would be willing to evaluate the idea of starting schools later than they currently are,” she says.

The hearing for the bill is scheduled for Friday in Annapolis. Rubinstein is planning on being there.

“When you’re sleep deprived, that extra hour every day makes a difference,” Rubinstein said.

Arlington County made the switch to a later time in 2001. Fairfax County high school students begin their day at 7:20 a.m., but the school system has hired a consultant to take a look at making a change. Meanwhile, most D.C. high schools start at 8:45 a.m.