AUGUSTA — Who says teenagers would rather sleep in than get an early start on their day?

Not Cony High School students who were asked in a recent survey if they would prefer a later start to the school day. The vast majority of Cony students and staff members, according to the survey, want to keep school’s start at 7:10 in the morning, which is nearly an hour earlier than some other local schools.

The survey, conducted in response to a school board member’s interest in looking at a later start, showed 77 percent of high school students, 76 percent of middle school students and 72 percent of Cony staff members do not want to start school later in the morning and end it later in the day.

Many of the 842 people who responded to the survey said the early start pays off with more time at the end of the day to get things done, including homework, sports and jobs. With a 7:10 a.m. start, school lets out at 1:45 p.m.

“We want to get out early and have the rest of the day to do whatever,” said senior Charlie Atwater, who said he was among the many who voted to keep Cony’s start time at 7:10 a.m. “I usually work around 4. It’s nice to get out of school in time to go home for a little bit, maybe do some homework, and get something in my stomach before I go to work.”

Atwater, who works in the produce department at Shaw’s supermarket in Augusta, said getting to work earlier means he doesn’t have to work late into the night.

Officials said at an Education and Curriculum Committee meeting Monday that a proposal to move the school start time at Cony to later in the day will not move forward, so the issue probably is dead for now.

“I don’t think it’s worth spending any more time on this,” said Katie Vose, the committee chairwoman.

Larry Ringrose, a longtime at-large Board of Education member, has advocated looking at a later Cony start time, citing research that suggests students perform better academically when they start later in the day. He said in his experience, 7:10 a.m. is too early in the day for students, especially middle school students, to be awake and ready to learn.

“I think we go to school quite a bit earlier than everyone else,” Ringrose said. “I think we should look at it further.”

An examination of student performance at Cony, however, suggests a later start time results in worse, not better, student performance.

Stewart Brittner, an assistant principal at Cony, said a study of attendance, graduation and dropout rates, and SAT proficiency in reading and mathematics showed that students did better with a 7:10 a.m. start in 2012-2013 than they did in the 2008-2009 school year, when Cony started at 7:45 a.m.

“The attendance, graduation and dropout rates, and SAT scores were more favorable in the 2012-2013 year,” Brittner said.

Also, a look at English classes at different periods of the day indicated six students failed the class in period 4, while only two failed in period 1. Also, 10 students received a grade of “A” in the period 4 English class, while 19 received an “A” in the period 1 class.

Another comparison of 7:45 a.m. vs. 7:10 a.m. start times showed many more students were late for school when classes started at 7:45 a.m. than at 7:10 a.m.

Superintendent James Anastasio said school officials aren’t sure why more students were tardy when the day started later.

Brittner — and anonymous comments left by students and staff members in the survey — indicated many students were concerned about the proposal to start school later. Doing so would interfere with after-school activities and force athletes to miss classes to travel to away games after school, they feared. Numerous students also indicated they had jobs they need to get to after school.

“I have a job after school and I have sports and homework,” one high school student commented in the survey. “Ending later would mean staying up later and being more tired than I would be with the schedule we have now.”

Starting school later without also getting out of school later was not an option presented to students in the survey.

Cony Principal Kim Silsby said officials didn’t know what the survey results would be and that school board members expressed surprise at the results.

Other Maine schools have later start times: Gardiner Area High School, 7:30 a.m.; Maranacook Community High School, 8 a.m.; Hall-Dale High School, 7:45 a.m.; and Bangor High School, 8 a.m.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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