Welcome to Start School Later Ohio!
Start School Later Ohio is committed to protecting the health and safety of public school students by advocating for sane, humane school start times in sync with teen sleep needs. Start School Later Ohio is led by Debbie Coleman, MBA. Stacy Simera serves as Healthy Policy Director.
To join the Ohio chapter, request more information, or to get involved in Ohio, please fill out the form to the right.
We also have three local Ohio chapters:
Click on the button below for a printable handout (pdf) on school start times in Ohio. This handout can be copied and shared and is appropriate for use by PTAs, school boards, administrators, and community members to educate on the issue:
Senate Bill 218 - Ohio School Start Time Bill - Questions and Answers
In the fall of 2019, Senator Sandra Williams (Cleveland) introduced Senate Bill 218 that would limit public schools in Ohio from starting before 8:30 a.m. The parameters may be adjusted as the bill progresses, but Start School Later Ohio openly endorses this legislation. Here are frequently asked questions and our answers:
Question: Why set a limit for ALL public schools? The research is clear that adolescents need later school start times because of changes in their sleep cycle during puberty, as explained on the Start School Later website, but why set a limit for elementary schools as well?
Answer: Even though pre-pubertal children are wired to wake earlier than teens, a reasonable and safe limit should still be set to prevent kids of ANY age from walking to school or bus stops before civil twilight. Start School Later's national stance is that no school should start before 8 a.m. Senator Williams's primary reported intent with Senate Bill 218 is to prevent children from being struck by vehicles in the dark.
Question: What about the concept of "local control?"
Answer: When it comes to school schedules, local control can actually become a barrier to change. Individual school districts frequently have to coordinate with neighboring schools to arrange transportation for athletics and for students enrolled in private schools or vocational programs. Isolated change can be complicated enough that many schools choose not to entertain the idea. This concept of the "paradox of local control" was addressed in the journal Education and Health, and Ohio was cited as a perfect case example. That editorial can be found here. The research has been clear since the early 90s, and yet only a handful of Ohio schools have made adequate changes. When it comes to matters of public health and safety, especially for children, it is appropriate and necessary for the state to set healthy parameters. Note that Senate Bill 218 does not state when schools should start or end their days; instead, it places a reasonable earliest limit. It is also important to point out that the most local entity of all is the family, and families want safe and healthy children.
Question: What are the economic implications?
Answer: At the local level, cost-neutral solutions exist and have been utilized by over a dozen in Ohio and hundreds (if not thousands) of schools around the nation. At the state level, a report was released in 2017 by the RAND Corporation that examined the return on investment if the state assisted schools in purchasing more buses so that every school started at 8:30 a.m. with single-tier busing. (Single-tier busing is usually the most expensive option and is not required in Senate Bill 218). The RAND analysts determined the economic benefits of fewer teen driving crashes and improved academic outcomes (they admittedly did not consider the additional economic benefits of improved health and reduced substance abuse). In their analysis for Ohio, the results were that for every $1.00 spent, Ohio would see a minimum return of $1.39 within two years, $2.37 within five years, $2.77 within ten years, $3.27 within fifteen years, and $3.72 within twenty years.
Question: What about after school activities?
Answer: Senate Bill 218 does not dictate ending times for schools. However, when schools in Ohio and across the U.S. have moved ending times later in order to accommodate later start times, extra-curricular activity participation remains largely unchanged and Athletics Directors report that sports scheduling works smoothly. In addition, event scheduling between schools will be even easier with state-level change. It is also important to note that later morning start times for adolescents have the potential to improve athletic performance, reduce sports injuries, and improve efficiency in homework completion due to the physical and cognitive benefits of healthier sleep.
Question: What about family schedules?
Answer: Families already learn to adapt to schedule changes, such as when children move from elementary to middle school, or when school vacations occur. However, it is wise for legislation to provide adequate lead-time so that families and communities can more easily plan and prepare. During that planning period, schools are encouraged to seek input from the community regarding options that can best meet the needs of all stakeholders and schedules. Some schools have developed early drop-off programs or coordinated with local daycares for before and after school care. Other school have offered zero-period courses or after-school programming. Solutions exist and have been proven around the country.
Question: What about rural schools with long bus runs or kids that help on the family farm?
Answer: Children in schools with extended bus runs especially need the protection of Senate Bill 218. In Ohio, there are some morning bus pick ups that occur in the 5 o'clock hour, which disrupts the sleep cycle of children of any age. And, given the known links between adolescent sleep loss and farm injuries, teens who help on the family farm need their sleep protected. As previously stated, this legislation doesn't regulate ending times for schools, nor does it limit schools from arranging early dismissals for students involved in extracurricular activities or employment.
Question: Who supports state-level legislation?
Answer: A hallmark consensus letter was submitted in support of California's Sentate Bill 328, the first state-level mandate in the nation, and was signed by a Who's Who list of health, safety, and education professionals. For a overview of Ohio-specific supporters of Senate Bill 218, contact Start School Later Ohio and/or Senator Williams's office, as the support continues to grow.