Rutigliano wants later school start

State Rep. David Rutigliano (R-123rd) is throwing his support behind a bill that would investigate the benefits of starting school later.

Rutigliano proposed HB-5217 An Act Establishing a Working Group to Study Issues Relating to School Start Times, in the Education Committee. The bill has bi-partisan support in Hartford and will receive a committee hearing this session, he said.

“Education decisions should ultimately be decided by local school boards,” Rutigliano said. “The intention of this bill is not to mandate later start times, but to help local boards of education with a road-map of best practices. Get all the information in one room so the 169 school districts can see for themselves, what is best for their students and how it can be worked out.”

Rutigliano said he was especially concered about the winter months, when students are out waiting for school buses in the pre-dawn twilight. Trumbull High’s school day begins at 7:25 a.m., and the middle schools start at 7:35. This year the sun did not rise until after 7 a.m. from Dec. 3 to Feb 6. The latest sunrise was Jan.2 to Jan. 7 when the sun rose at 7:19 a.m.

“No child should be waiting for the school bus in the pitch-black morning,” Rutigliano said. “After listening to the science, it is quite clear, our students would benefit with later start times.”

Last fall, Rutigliano participated in a bi-partisan forum to gather information from experts on the issue. According to information presented at the forum, research has shown that high school-aged students are biologically not able to be fully awake before 8 a.m. It does not matter what time they went to bed or if they had screens on or not.

When school start times are moved later, not only do rates of tardiness, truancy, absenteeism, and dropping-out decline, but academic achievement increases, especially in students from economically disadvantaged homes, Rutigliano said.