SOUTH PORTLAND — Middle school students would start 25 minutes later and high school students would start 40 minutes later under a proposal for the 2017-18 school year that’s being considered by the Start Time Committee.

The school board has charged the committee with furthering the work of a study group that investigated the possibility of later start times and delivered a report to the board in July, Superintendent Ken Kunin said in an email to families this week.

The study group identified various benefits, challenges and considerations related to changing start times, including effects on student transportation and athletics. The group didn’t recommend specific start times.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that insufficient sleep among adolescents is an important public health issue and found that delaying school start times could improve student health, safety and academic achievement.

The study group also conducted community surveys, which found that 63 percent of parents of middle- and high-school students, and 52 percent of school staff members agreed the school department should adopt later start times at the middle and high schools.

Under the current proposal, the start time for Mahoney and Memorial middle schools would move from 7:55 to 8:20 a.m. and the start time for South Portland High School would move from 7:30 to 8:10 a.m.

The middle and high schools would maintain separate school bus runs, Kunin said. Elementary school start times would remain unchanged.

The Start Time Committee met Monday to review the proposal and consider a recommendation to the board. A second meeting will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the learning commons at the high school.

Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed, Kunin said.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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