Letting kids start school later – no earlier than 8:30 in the morning, to be exact – could save the US government $9 billion annually, among other benefits, a recent study suggests.
An extensive study by non-profit Rand Corporation on delaying school start times found that not only will later start times cut back on federal costs, it could also lead to improved educational achievements, more sleep and fewer traffic accidents among high school students, Slate Magazine reports.
The study adds that a later school time could likewise bring on economic advantages in a short amount of time after implementation, bringing in $83 billion after just a decade.
Wendy Troxel, co-author on the study, said, “The significant economic benefits from simply delaying school start times to 8.30 a.m. would be felt in a matter of years, making this a win-win, both in terms of benefiting the public health of adolescents and doing so in a cost-effective manner.”
The researchers said they used a conservative approach, and did not factor in things like lack of sleep, high suicide rates, increased obesity and mental health issues, saying that “the reported economic benefits from delaying school start times could be even higher across many U.S. states.”
However, those against later school times argue that doing so would increase costs in things like transportation changes, such as re-scheduling bus routes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that most teenagers start classes too early, and recommends that middle and high school students begin at 8:30 a.m. or later.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports the same, especially when it comes to lack of sleep among students. “Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance,” the CDC said.