Go ahead kids, get some extra zzz's.

Starting in the 2019-20 school year, students in District 51 can expect to start class a little later each day.

Elementary schools will start at 8:55 a.m. and release at 3:55 p.m. High schools will start at 8 a.m. and release at 3:15 p.m.

The changes were recommended after a lengthy process by a wide swath of community members and district officials who evaluated the later start times, passed unanimously by District 51 Board of Education members Tuesday night.

The increased costs of bussing students through the district's provider, Student Transportation of America, must be kept under a $300,000 cap, District 51 Superintendent Diana Sirko said.

Tuesday's decision also does not include a solution for early release days. Elementary schools currently release students early on Wednesdays. The calendar committee had recommended the district offer early release days on Fridays or do away with the practice altogether.

Sirko said there may be some minor variability among schools' start and release times, but instruction time will remain the same.

For example, Loma Elementary School will start at 9 a.m. and release at 4 p.m.

Board member John Williams said the board took to heart the calendar committee's recommendation that no school should start earlier than 8 a.m.

Most District 51 high schools currently start at 7:25 a.m.

"I think this board goes out on a limb to do the late start time," Williams said. "I think we should go out on a limb."

Recommendations for later start times for District 51 students were based on nearly 6,500 community surveys, focus groups and feedback from district teachers and officials. The committee members pointed to health studies that show students need more sleep to function better.

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