Students at Los Alamos High School may get to enjoy some extra morning shut-eye after the Board of Education approved a measure this week allowing leaders of the school some flexibility to experiment with a later start time.

But elementary students in Los Alamos Public Schools must continue to show up at 8:20 a.m., and middle school students at 8 a.m., after the school board voted 3-2 Tuesday to leave the schedules at those facilities unchanged.

“I know there will be some complications, and it won’t be completely easy,” school board President Jenny McCumber said Wednesday. “But I like the idea of giving people the choice so those students who absolutely do not want their schedules to change at all do not have to change it.”

The community has been divided on the issue since a proposal emerged in October. During several community forums, proponents for starting the school day later argued that teens, in particular, have a later sleep cycle than adults and young children, and would benefit from a later start time because they be would be more rested and ready to learn.

Critics, however, said that a later daily schedule would affect after-school activities and job opportunities.

The school board first discussed the issue at length during a meeting Nov. 30, debating several options, from keeping the schedules unchanged to starting the school day a full hour later.

McCumber said the board received “an awfully lot of feedback” on the issue because it “has such an across-the-board effect on every single student. … It affects everybody.”

Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus applauded the decision Wednesday. “Anytime we make a decision that is best for our students, I am pleased,” he said.

Los Alamos High Principal Carter Payne will work with his staff to try a pilot program of different class schedules to accommodate students’ sleep needs, Steinhaus said.

“If it works, a discussion on the issue could come back up [to the board] again,” he said.

Contact Robert Nott at 505-986-3021 or

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