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Potsdam may explore swapping start times for high school with elementary and middle school

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POTSDAM — Citing research that indicates start times of 8:30 a.m. or later are optimal for high school students to get the most out of the school day, a Potsdam school board member is suggesting the district take a look at pushing back the start time of the school day.

“The American Academy of Pediatric Sciences said high school students should start school at 8:30 a.m. or later,” J. Patrick Turbett said.

Mr. Turbett said he realized it was too late to discuss pushing back the start time for this year, but he said it is something he would like to see discussed in the future. “If it is better for learning, we should at least look at it,” he said. “A lot of schools are going to it.”

Lawrence Avenue Elementary Principal Larry B. Jenne noted Gouverneur High School has pushed back its start time this year and now is starting its elementary school day ahead of its high school day.

The school day begins shortly after 7:30 a.m. at Potsdam High School, with the elementary and middle school starting about an hour later.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said switching the start times was recommended by the district’s consultants in the recently completed merger study.

“The study recommended flipping start times for that reason,” he said, referring to the study mentioned by Mr. Turbett.

Board member Christopher C. Cowen said one initial worry he would have is the impact a later start time could have on the district’s athletes.

“The one thing that often comes up is how does that affect sports?” he said.

Later, when it came time to discuss agenda items for the board’s next meeting, Mr. Turbett declined to add the topic to the agenda, saying it wasn’t a pressing matter at this time. “When things calm down, we can put it on a future agenda and talk about it,” he said.

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