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Brighton-based district is the latest to adopt later start times for secondary students

Seth McConnell/The Denver Post

Middle and high school students in an 18,000-student school district northeast of Denver will start school later in the morning next year, making it the latest Colorado district to push back start times in response to research on teen sleep needs.

While exact start times won’t be announced until March, district middle and high schools in the Brighton-based 27J school district will all start at 8:30 a.m. or later next year, according to a press release Monday.

The decision fits with a growing trend in Colorado and the nation as school officials become more attuned to research showing that later start times are associated with improved student attendance, achievement and mental health.

Starting this school year, both the Cherry Creek and Greeley-Evans school districts pushed middle and high school start times later. Jeffco Public Schools, the state’s second largest district, and the Thompson School District are currently studying the possibility of changing secondary start times in the future.

In recent years, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have come out in favor of middle and high school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later.

The Boulder Valley School District studied the possibility of changing start times last year, but ultimately decided against it because of the complexity of school bus schedules and the prospect of higher transportation costs. The Adams 12 district also looked at the issue last year, but officials said Tuesday there are no plans for immediate changes.

In Brighton, district officials said they don’t anticipate next year’s start time changes will cost the district additional money. They also noted that start time adjustments would have been necessary anyway because the opening of a new district high school in the fall of 2018 will make the existing staggered shifts at two existing high schools unnecessary.

The school district serves students from Brighton, Commerce City, Henderson and Thornton as well as parts of unincorporated parts of Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties.

Correction: The story has been updated to more clearly and accurately describe the Brighton-based school district.

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