SELAH — When classes start Aug. 31 at Selah Intermediate School, third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will begin their day more than an hour later than school started last year. And it could be a sign of things to come for other Selah schools.
The 8:40 a.m. start, changed from 7:30 last year, is a result of the district’s so-called “realignment,” or restructuring which grade levels are housed in which schools.
Later start and end times could be in store for the district’s other three campuses, but not until the 2016-17 school year.
The new start time for intermediate students is somewhat misleading. Unless they are new to the district, all of the affected students will have come from either Campbell or the former Robert Lince Elementary, which both started at 8:30.
“The kids transitioning out of Lince and the Campbell students are used to that elementary schedule,” said district spokeswoman Heidi Diener.
Members of the Selah school board said in a recent policy statement they believe later start times would aid student learning.
And in school board policy circles nationally, the idea gained merit after the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 2014 that start times be delayed to combat sleep deprivation.
Students, the academy said, need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep nightly. A lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, depression, decrease in mental and physical health, and a greater likelihood of car accidents among teens.
But Selah board members said they understand that pushing back the start of the school day could interfere with parents’ work schedules and drop-off times.
“We are committed to working with all stakeholders to discuss this topic thoroughly with the goal of making a shift to later start times for secondary students beginning with the 2016-2017 school year,” the board wrote. “For the 2015-2016 school year, we will be using a schedule similar to what we currently have in place.”
In another change, Selah no longer uses the term elementary school, switching to “primary school.” John Campbell Primary will serve K-2.
What’s more, Lince is now a preschool center and alternative high school, reflecting the district’s consolidation from five to four schools.
The new middle school for grades 6-8 — which partly opened last year — will begin at 7:45 a.m.; Selah High School’s opening bell will ring at 7:40.