Later school start times in region supported by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

WASHINGTON – Thousands of school kids are heading back to class this week and next week, and many of them are getting up before the sun. But one tweet from a top educator could help fuel efforts to ring that school bell just a bit later.

On Aug. 19, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tweeted that starting schools later is common sense.

Phyliss Payne from SLEEP in Fairfax, a local campaign that advocates for later start times for middle and high school students in the Fairfax County Public School system — the largest school district in the region — says she is thrilled to have the secretary’s support.

Currently, the school day begins at 7:20 a.m. Payne says so far, progress has been made on moving high school start times past 8 a.m., so much so that the change could become a reality in the fall of 2014.

“We’ll be saving money on remediation, we won’t have as many students dropping out of school,” says Payne on the later start times.

Several school districts in Northern Virginia have already adapted later start times, such as Arlington and Loudoun counties. In Maryland, parents in Montgomery County, the region’s second largest school district, are currently petitioning for a later start time.

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