HARTFORD – State Rep. David Rutigliano (R-123) along with Trumbull Board of Ed Member Kathleen Fearon, and Board of finance member Marty Issac today sat on the bi-partisan Healthy School Start Times Forum held at the State Capitol to examine to health benefits of starting school later particularly for adolescents.
Rep. Rutigliano said, “No child should have to wait outside in the pitch black of the early morning for the school bus. The science is clear and it has wide bipartisan support: early start times for students can potentially harm our children and make them dangerously sleep deficient. I am hopeful the legislature can come together this year and provide a road map and or incentives for local boards of education. Our Trumbull Board of Education is engaged in the issue, we want to help.”
Research has shown that high school aged students simply are biologically in need of more sleep. During adolescence, young peoples’ sleep patterns change, as does there need for sleep and daylight. When school start times are moved later, not only do rates of tardiness, truancy, absenteeism, and dropping-out decline, but improvements in academic achievement are nearly twice as high in students from economically disadvantaged homes.
The Healthy School Start Times Forum heard from experts in the field including Sarah Raskin, Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Craig Canepari, sleep scientist at Yale, Maria LaRusso, developmental psychologist at UConn, and Michelle Ku, a school board member in Newtown which recently made the switch to later school start times.
The science that lawmakers have cited most often is a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which calls adolescents’ lack of sleep “an important public health issue that significantly affects” academic success.
Rutigliano plans to continue to meet with fellow legislators leading up to next session on the start time issue.