CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Next school year in Kanawha County will begin on Aug. 20 and high schools will start at 8:30 a.m.

The Kanawha County Board of Education voted Thursday night in favor of a school calendar that begins about a week later than school has started in recent years. Board president Jim Crawford called it a good compromise.

“It will give student athletes an additional week of two-a-days (practices), it gives parents an opportunity to have extended vacations and the main thing with me is that if we start any later than that teachers would lose a pay period,” Crawford said.

The other option was to begin the school year on Aug. 13. The Aug. 20 beginning will mean first semester classes won’t end until after the Christmas break. Students have been able to take their final exams before Christmas the last few years.

The system also announced Thursday high school start times would be moved back to 8:30 a.m. beginning next school year. School officials cite studies that show high school students perform better with later start times.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) issued a statement last year saying middle school and high school kids should start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Because of bus schedules, the move will also impact middle school and elementary school start times. The goal is to begin all middle schools at 8:00 a.m. and elementary schools at 7:30 a.m.

St. Albans High will be least impacted by the new time. It currently begins at 8:45 a.m.

The school board didn’t have to vote on the change in start times. Crawford said it’s a central office decision. He did request a report be given at the middle of next school year.

The Kanawha County School Board continues to have a vacancy following the recent death of longtime board member Pete Thaw. Crawford said 19 residents have submitted letters to be considered for the position. He said board members are reviewing the information.

AASM Position Statement

The AASM asserts that middle school and high school start times should be 8:30 AM or later to support:

An adequate opportunity for adolescents to obtain sufficient sleep on school nights

Optimal alertness in the classroom environment to facilitate peak academic performance

Reduced tardiness and school absences to foster improved opportunities for learning

Adolescent mental health and psychological well-being

Adolescent driving safety