Howard group pushes for later school start times

A local group focused on pushing back the start time in Howard County high schools is holding a public meeting to rally support for a later first bell.

The meeting of Start School Later Howard County is Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 7:30 – 9 a.m. in Suite 209, 10630 Little Patuxent Parkway. It is the group’s first meeting of the year. Meetings will be the third Tuesday of every month.

Start School Later Howard County, the local chapter of the national organization, was founded last year by Howard County parent Mark Donovan. It’s a small group so far, but he said interest is high. An online petition started by the group to push high school start times back 30 minutes has 1,429 signatures, as of Sept. 9.

Donovan said the meetings will be to discuss a plan to encourage the Board of Education to make a change to school start times. The group is collecting letters from local organizations, pediatricians and therapists in support of a later school start time. Donovan cited research outlining the effects of teen sleep deprivation, including increased stress, high blood pressure, obesity decreased memory and ability to learn and depression, among other issues.

In February, the Howard County Public School System announced a study and impact analysis would be done on school start times. That feasibility study is expected to take a year; if there is any feasibility in changing the schools' start times, surveys will be sent out to parents, students, teachers and the community. At the time, school officials said there was no hard timeline in place.

For more information on the meeting or Start School Later Howard County, contact Donovan at

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