MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade County School Board wants your input regarding later start times for the school year. It has scheduled a series of meetings to hear from the public regarding changing the bell schedule in order to give students the opportunity to get more sleep. However, the schedule not only considers the health needs of all students but also improving transportation efficiency across the District.

Here is the meeting schedule:

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January 9: The first meeting on January 9 is actually a Twitter Town Hall where you can Tweet your questions or comments to @MDCPS using #MDCPSBellTimes from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

January 13: The second meeting will take place on January 13 at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, located at 1410 NE 215 Street in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

January 21: On January 21, there’s a meeting at Coral Reef Senior High School, located at 10101 SW 152 Street in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

January 28: The final meeting will take place on January 28 at Miami Jackson Senior High School, located at 1751 NW 36 Street in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Several factors play into creating a new district-wide bell schedule including making sure it maximizes the use of buses, limits additional costs, and maintains the length of the school day.

Numerous research studies have outlined the health benefits of later school start times to better align with the natural sleep cycle of teenagers.

Research shows adolescent brain functioning is higher later in the morning.

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At puberty, kids’ body clocks shift, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep until later at night (for teens, closer to 11 p.m.) and leads to them sleeping later in the morning. Waking a 16-year-old at 6:30 a.m. is the equivalent of waking a 40-year-old at 4:30 a.m. Moving school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later has been shown as a way to address adolescent sleep deprivation and its associated health and public safety risks.

Early school start times, according to MDCPS, results in more absences and tardies, lower test scores and graduation rates, and even increased rates of student-athlete injuries. Studies have shown that when start times are moved later, students with the lowest scores show the biggest increases.

There is also a proven link between sleep deprivation, school start times, and teen hopelessness and suicidal ideation. Adolescents who experience chronic sleep deprivation because of early school start times are likely to have decreased ability to regulate negative emotions and moods.

The School Board has created two proposed bell alternatives and both include no classes starting earlier than 8 a.m.

For example, senior high schools currently start at 7:20 a.m. but in the first proposed model, it would start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. The second proposed model has it starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m.

Middle schools currently start at 9:10 a.m. but the first proposed model has it starting at 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in the second proposed model.

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