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Apr 13, 2016 9:50 AM

Forum held to discuss later start times for Portsmouth school students

PORTSMOUTH — A public forum held Tuesday to discuss delaying school start times for middle and high school students.

According to, the City Council chambers were packed during this forum where the School Board and members of the community continued their ongoing discussion of delaying start times beginning in the fall of 2017.

Both the middle and high school begin their day at 7:30 a.m. with the exception of the Robert J. Lister Academy which starts at 8:20 a.m.

One official explained to attendees that researches have found that sleep cycles alter when students enter puberty and that elementary students have sleep cycles more similar to adults, where they often go to sleep between 8 and 10 p.m. and wake up around 6 or 7 a.m. But when puberty begins, adolescents go to bed much later.

“Waking a teen at 7 a.m. is biologically similar as waking up an adult at 4 a.m.,” Erin Hiley Sharp, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of New Hampshire, told the paper.

The school board is considering two options for school start times. The first will be starting all the schools at 8:30 a.m. and the other is to swap the elementary school times with the middle and high school times.

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