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Later Start Time For Montgomery County High Schools Gains Traction

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Parents in Montgomery County want their high schools to start at least an hour later than they do now.

High schools currently start at 7:20 a.m., and 16-year-old Garret Mader says this means waking up at 5:45 a.m. and semi-sleep walking to the bus stop. And he's not the only one who's sleepy.

"My friends are all tired," Mader says. "They're all really tired, and they're usually in about the same spot as me."

Mandi Mader, Garret's mother, started the petition. Two months later more than 10,000 have signed, asking for a start time of 8:20 a.m. Mader says many research studies have found a teenager s body clock or circadian rhythm shifts forward, so they don't feel sleepy until later at night.

"Their whole physiology is saying  'sleep, sleep' and they are trying to be at their desk alert and learning," she says.

Mader says that if schools start later, students will be more rested and alert. But critics say teens should just stop using electronics and go to bed. Others worry that it might cost more to reschedule buses or reorganize after-school activities.

The Montgomery County superintendent's office did not return calls for comment.

The county completed a study (pdf) in 1998 on the potential impacts of moving back high school start times an hour. The idea did not get beyond the discussion phase.

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