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Portland school board approves later start times for public schools

By Setareh Jalali

Some good news for Portland Public School students: The Portland School Board voted this week to adjust the start and end times for the city’s public schools.  

Per the school board’s proposal document, the schedule for the 2021-2022 school year includes three tiers.  

  • Tier One: East End, Longfellow, Ocean Avenue, and Talbot elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:10 p.m. 
  • Tier Two: middle and high schools will start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. 
  • Tier Three: Lyseth, Presumpscot, Reiche, and Rowe elementary schools will start at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. 

The new plan will not affect the Portland Arts and Technology High School schedule or Island schools’ schedules. PATHS will retain its existing 8-10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. schedule. Cliff Island schools will remain in session from 8:20 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and Peaks Island schools will remain 8:20 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.  

This development may only be the beginning, as board members also passed a resolution committing the district to continue making secondary school start times consistent with scientific research outlining appropriate sleep needs for adolescents.  

The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Sleep Foundation all conclude that adolescents on average need nine hours of sleep per night for optimal performance, health, and brain development. 

Superintendent Xavier Botana has said that he will be researching the impact of moving start times on transportation, co-curricular activities and work and childcare. He must report his findings to the board by April 22, 2022, before the board adopts the school calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. 

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