Blueprint for Change
Later Start Times
Research has shown that adolescents benefit from later school start times in order to help students get a sufficient amount of sleep. The Fairfax County School Board approved a recommendation for starting high schools later, between 8 and 8:10 a.m. and ending between 2:45 and 2:55 p.m. The new bell schedule implemented in September 2015 benefited more than 57,000 high school students representing more than 30 percent of Fairfax County Public Schools' (FCPS) student population. The Superintendent and School Board hope to continue to refine and improve school start times in the years ahead.
The Fairfax County School Board adopted a resolution in April 2012 to seek solutions that will establish high school start times at 8 a.m. or later. After adopting the resolution, the School Board voted in March 2013 to award a contract to Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) to develop a proposal to achieve the goal.
In total, the School Board has held six work sessions since June 2012 to discuss the issue. Eight community meetings were held between during which approximately 1,000 participants shared their opinions on four options. In addition, more than 2,000 comments were gathered from an online feedback form. Working with a stakeholder committee, CNMC’s Division of Sleep Medicine initiated a process to develop a Blueprint for Change.
The committee studied several workable scenarios to start high schools in Fairfax County after 8:00 a.m. to improve students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and safety. The scenarios were presented to the School Board at a work session on April 23, 2014.
Four options were presented by consultants from Children's National Medical Center (CNMC) at community meetings and via an online form in May and June. After analyzing the feedback, CNMC made a final recommendation to the School Board at its work session on July 14. 2014.
The School Board voted on October 23, 2014.