LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Over 19,000 students in Jefferson County Public Schools have a bus stop time before 6:45 a.m.

What You Need To Know

  • JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio proposes delaying school start times for middle and high schools in the district

  • Right now, all JCPS middle and high schools start at 7:40 a.m.

  • JCPS reports 19,133 students have a bus stop time before 6:45 a.m.

  • Dr. Pollio has not yet unveiled specifics on the proposal for the later start times

It's something Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio would like to change. He wants board members to consider a phased-in proposal that would have JPCS middle and high schools start later.

Right now, all middle and high school students in JCPS start class around 7:40 a.m. For students who take the bus, the day often starts much earlier than that. For example, Marion C. Moore High freshmen Farida Abdullatif gets up around 6:30 a.m. every morning to get to her bus stop around 7:05 a.m. As a self-proclaimed night owl, she said mornings can be a little tough.

“During my first period, I am still trying to get the groove of waking up. I think I do better at the end of the day than the beginning," said Abdullatif.

She's not the only one who feels that way. Marion C. Moore English teacher Joseph Burrell said his students are often more engaged in later blocks than in the early mornings.

"During first hour, it’s a lot more sleepiness. I’m contending with students who are starting to doze already or have that lethargy," said Burrell.

Superintendent Pollio said JCPS start times have not changed in four decades. Burrell said 7:40 a.m. was his start time back when he was a student at Seneca High. He said it was always hard for him to get up and going in the mornings, especially during the winter when he was tied up with wrestling at night.

He knows many of his students are in the same boat now that he was back then.

“A lot of them tell me outright 'I was up really late last night.' Sometimes it is recreationally playing games or what not, but some of them work and they’ll tell me as much saying 'sorry I didn’t get home until 10:30 or 11 last night and it took me a while to wind down and go to sleep,'” said Burrell.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the CDC all endorse the rationale for later school start times, as it typically leads to more sleep for students. 

Opponents of pushing back start times worry about the challenge it may post for families with younger children. Right now, JCPS middle and high schools run from 7:40 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. Elementary schools run from 9:05 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. That means older students are home in the afternoon before elementary students, so some are tasked with picking up their younger sibling from the bus stop while their parents work.

That is the case for Abdullatif. She picks up her elementary-aged sister from the bus stop in the afternoons. As long as the delayed start times get her home in time to pick up her little sister, she said the change would be best for her and her family.

“If we have more students awake, I think they will be more open to the day starting and be more energetic and ready for the day," Abdullatif said.

JCPS said, at the current moment, the earliest bus pickup time in the district is 5:39 a.m. 19,133 JCPS students have a bus stop time before 6:45 a.m.

Superintendent Dr. Pollio has shared this proposal before board members, as well as during his State of the District address. While specifics of the proposal have not been unveiled, Pollio said it is likely not all schools in the district will start at the same time. He thinks this could help with the transportation woes the district faces amid a bus driver shortage. He anticipates this would be a phased-in approach spanning two years.