Nearly 2,000 parents and guardians of students in Rio Rancho Public Schools recently participated in the district-wide School Start Times Survey.
There were just over 1,000 responses from RRPS staffers and 1,949 parent/guardian responses.
RRPS has formed a committee to review the data and develop a recommendation, which could determine no changes are necessary.
“This will be a very difficult topic to address,” RRPS Superintendent Sue Cleveland said at the Dec. 5 meeting of the school board, “but we really ought to take a look at it.
“A majority thought we ought to do something different.”
Cleveland said RRPS wouldn’t be the first district to alter its starting times for students.
In California, for example, a new law went into effect in time for the 2022-23 school year, mandating that all high schools in California begin their days after 8:30 a.m. and all middle schools start after 8 a.m.
Golden State Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed to research that shows later starting times help teens combat sleep deprivation, as well as improve academic performance, attendance and mental health, and reduce sleep-related auto accidents.
In 2015, a similar initiative began in Seattle, where the start time became 8:45 a.m.
In the RRPS survey, 50.5 percent of staff members who responded support new start times and think RRPS should further study and review options for the 2023-24 school year.
Also, 32.3 percent of staff members who responded are open to further study and considerations, while 17.1 percent do not support any changes.
Of the responding parents/guardians, 43.4 percent think RRPS should further study and review options for the 2023-24 school year; 38.8 percent are open to further study and considerations, with 17.8 percent not supporting any changes.
The other question of interest to many was about early release days – and if they’re even needed.
Of the staff members who responded, 47.6 percent would prefer early release days on Fridays; 31.6 percent like early release days on Wednesdays; 20.8 percent believe the district should do away with early release days.
Of the parents/guardians who responded, 54 percent would prefer early release days on Fridays; 21.3 percent like them on Wednesdays; 24.6 percent believe the district should do away with early release days.
Regardless of any determinations by the committee, changes may be coming from the state legislature during the 60-day 2023 session.