Cumberland School Department leaders now have a better understanding of what is needed to implement evidenced based school hours which will contribute to the improvement of health, safety, and academic achievement of all students.
Using lessons taken from ‘Leadership Matters’ RI, a professional public leadership program hosted by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and the Public Sector Consortium a national non-profit, Cumberland Leaders are building the necessary partnerships to achieve this goal.
With a new tool box of leadership skills, school officials have taken several action steps toward making the change; creating a school start time committee, conducting an independent study to provide the cost of a later start time and developing surveys to collect data on the current status of the Cumberland High School Students.
The initial survey was completed by 870 high school students. The survey indicates that 79% of the students get seven hours of sleep or less during the week. According to sleep researchers, teenagers should be getting nine hours of sleep each night. 77% of CHS students feel they don’t get enough sleep. 68% of CHS students stated that if school started later they would get more sleep. 71% of CHS students report feeling tired during class often or most of the time. 72% of CHS students feel they would perform better if school started later. 72% of CHS students feel that school starts too early.
“Creating these methods of communication to study the health and safety of our students has been critical in our initiative,” said Bob Mitchell, Superintendent of Cumberland schools. “After taking the ‘Leadership Matters’ RI course we realized that a comprehensive communication plan was crucial for this initiative to have the support it needs to succeed. Stakeholders throughout the community are now more aware of the research on sleep deprivation and student performance and mental health.” They are also aware of the impacts on the community as well.
Research from Start School Later, an organization committed to later high school start times around the country shows that the impacts of sleep deprivation are more than bleary eyed students at a bus stop. Sleepy student drivers pose a risk to themselves and other citizens on the road, and students who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to cost the health care system money in the form of treatment for depression, obesity and ADHD. In addition, test scores for students increase with more sleep and criminal activity decreases helping communities be safer.
Building the coalition of leaders and stakeholders has been a large part of the Leadership efforts in making their vision of a later school start time a reality for the community of Cumberland, RI.