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Chesterfield talks pushing back high schools start times

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Monday night hundreds of Chesterfield County parents attended the Chesterfield Council PTA to discuss school start times in the County.

During the session, school leaders focused on the medical research regarding sleep and the impact it has on students.

New Chesterfield Superintendent James Lane recently reached out the parents to let them know about recent studies concerning school start times.

"Research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that students who don’t get enough sleep often suffer from physical and mental health issues, an increased risk of car accidents and a decline in academic performance. In response to these medical findings, the AAP recommends that middle and high schools start later than they currently do in Chesterfield County," he wrote.

Experts argue that Chesterfield high school students are leaving for school entirely too early, some as early as 5:40 a.m. They also say chesterfield is one of only three counties in the state with a start time of 7:20 a.m.

The school district is currently proposing three different options to push back times for high school students. One has students starting at 8 a.m., one at 8:45 a.m. and another at 9:30 a.m.

Some parents argue the county needs to get a handle on other issues, before it considers these plans.

"There are so many delays this year alone. They're telling me delays are due to a shortage of bus drivers and I understand that the county has a shortage of at least 30 bus drivers,” said Chesterfield parent Jeanine Lundeberg.  “Some of their plans are looking at 250 bus drivers added and six weeks into school -- They haven't found 30. I don't know how they are going to find six times as much in a year and a half."

School leaders aren’t expected to make a decision regarding start times until next year.