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Prior to dozens of public comments on school start times at Wednesday’s Anne Arundel Board of Education meeting, most in favor of changing the times, board members decided to hold a workshop on the subject.

The board reviewed school start times with a presentation made by the vice president of the board, Melissa Ellis, at the board’s meeting.

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Start and dismissal times for schools was placed on the Wednesday evening agenda for discussion, following the transportation report by a consultant firm named Prismatic Services Inc. In the report, the consultant called changing start times to be a decision made by the board and not the school system.

“This is a health issue and is recognized by every major health and mental health organization," Ellis said.

“That being said, I personally feel that it is time to move on this and to solve this problem.”

After her presentation that went over the history of the transportation department and school start times since 2013, Ellis motioned that the board hold a workshop to “study the issue and to come up with a solution,” she said.

The motion was seconded by school board member Dana Schallheim.

Her presentation was applauded by a room full of parents, students and teachers.

Schallheim and Candace Antwine commented on school start times. Schallheim went over the benefits of later start times for high school students, citing that attendance and grades would improve.

Antwine asked that the board review flexible start times, free breakfast for students and the possible impact of pre-kindergarten expansion as part of the workshop.

After the board agreed on a workshop, parents and students spoke up during public comment to talk about the impact of waking up early to get to school.

One parent, Christine Jackson, got emotional as she explained that her son had a car crash because he fell asleep at the wheel.

“My son was not speeding, under the influence or driving distracted. He fell asleep at the wheel, I am convinced that his sleep schedule was part of the accident,” she said.

“I honestly believe we might have avoided that accident if my son’s schedule was appropriate for his developmental needs.”

In addition, candidates running for the school board talked about start times.

India Ochs, an Annapolis attorney, human rights advocate and candidate for District 6, went over negative impacts for low-income students and nutrition and told the board to “listen to science and take immediate steps.”

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Joanna Bache Tobin, a parent of Annapolis High and candidate for District 6, said her daughter was lucky because her family could drive her to school so that she can sleep in. Even so, she said she has “witnessed my daughter’s exhaustion.”

Erin Lorenz, an Annapolis High teacher and another candidate for District 6, urged the board and others to look at the needs for students and teachers together, instead of separately because teachers need students to be alert and awake in class, as much as students need sleep.

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