sad17 heather manchester

Curriculum Director Heather Manchester presents the SAD 17 Board of Directors on Monday with results of a survey on starting classes for Oxford Hills middle and high school students one hour later each day. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

PARIS — The SAD 17 board’s Curriculum Committee advised directors Monday night it is not recommending changing class start times for Oxford Hills middle and high school students from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The decision was based on 2,097 responses from faculty, students and families, Curriculum Director Heather Machester said.

“The community is not ready to make such a change,” she said. Overall, about a third of respondents were supportive of a later start. More than 40% were opposed to any change and the balance said they needed more information before they could decide, she said.

“Medical research has shown that adolescents’ circadian rhythms are different at that age,” Manchester said. “Typically, they have difficulty falling asleep before 11 p.m. and waking up earlier.”

The survey also sought information on sleep and schedule patterns of students.

Manchester noted that many students boarded school buses as early as 6:15 a.m., with the majority between 6:30 and 6:45 a.m.

Parents were asked whether they wanted their children to get more sleep. Those with middle and high school students said they did. Most wished their children could get eight to 10 hours of sleep.

Teachers responded that high school students were the most likely to fall asleep in class, with the most productive learning times between 9 and 10:30 a.m.

The Curriculum Committee plans to educate families and students about research and survey findings. Members will also provide information on how the practice has worked in other districts that have made the changes.

In other business, school district Business Manager Cathy Coffey reported expenses for the year are about $1.3 million under budget, primarily because of positions not filled.

Facilities are over budget by $100,000 because of changes in leases and higher cost of oil and fuel at a couple of schools. Private transportation expenses, primarily for students driven in and out of the district ran about $100,000 over budget. SAD 17 also saw a shortfall of $415,000 in state subsidies due to MaineCare funds paid for out-of-district tuition and lower than projected prekindergarten enrollments.

Coffey said the annual district audit is being extended past the Dec. 30 deadline to Jan. 17, 2020. The Business Office is using a new financial platform and working with a new group of auditors, both of which have slowed the process.

In other business, the board approved the first reading of policies regarding school meals, use of tobacco and smoking devices, and amended the policy regarding student protests and walk-outs.

The board also voted to increase substitute teacher pay to bring the district more in line with surrounding areas and comply with new state laws.

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