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Sally Elliott and John Hanrahan Lead Efforts to Start School Later in the Day

We were filming a meeting of the Park City School’s Master Planning Committee when someone mentioned that Sally Elliott, former County Council member and prominent member of our community, had sent emails requesting that citizens sign a petition to start a discussion on whether Park City High School and Treasure Mountain School should start later in the day.

We reached out to a Friend who put us in contact with Ms. Elliot. Ms Elliot gave us permission to reprint her email. It’s worth reading:

Dear all,

Though my children and three of my grandchildren are now beyond high school, I recall my continuing struggle to function before the sun is bright. Attached is a body of evidence that my struggle is medically demonstrated and applicable to a broad swath of the population.

If you feel compelled, it would be helpful to a large number of citizens and students in the Park City School District if you would sign the petition to at least have a broad discussion about starting school at a later hour.

This came to me from John Hanrahan who has children of an age to benefit from your efforts. He says:

If you only have time to take one action today to help our teens thrive in school, please sign the petition to start PCHS and TMMS later, through the link below, and send it on to all your friends! Yes that only counts as one action :). Our starting email list is 20, our petition goal is 300!

If you have more time to benefit the kids, send an email to the School Board and superintendent Dr Ember Conley, letting them know what you want. There are several links attached with great info and research showing the numerous benefits of a later start time for TMMS and PCHS.

If you want to go even bigger, send a letter to the editor as well, and gather more research articles for our ‘library’ and future presentations. Call or email with any questions or thoughts, thanks. this website has lots of useful information

As of now the petition has over 345 signatures. Having read the links Dr Hanrahan provided, the benefits of starting school later are generally that kids learn more and it’s better for their health. Secretary of Education Arney Duncan even tweeted his agreement with the concept. Yet, what was interesting was the reaction from some of the educators in the meeting we were attending, when news broke of Ms Elliott’s email. Their response was that given a choice, kids would choose to start earlier. The stat quoted was something like 75-80% of kids would start earlier because they wanted to work or ski. In effect they were saying “this later start time isn’t something we should even look at pursuing.”

If 70% of High School kids said they would like beer served at Prom, would they do that too? If 95% of kids said having sex in the next week was important to them, would the next PC CAPS group start working on their own version of TINDER to make it easier for our students to hook up? Probably not. It seems our school district prides itself on evidence based learning… except perhaps when it’s inconvenient.

We don’t know know that later start times would benefit our community as a whole. However, we do know that there seems to be enough evidence that a discussion is warranted.

We hope Dr Hanrahan’s efforts, and Ms Elliot’s communication of the issue, at least lead to a community meeting on the subject where data can be presented and parents’, teachers’, and childrens’ opinions can be freely expressed.

Here are links to documents attached in Ms Elliott’s email:

AAP policy statement

F Edwards research on achievement gap



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