Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal

SLEEP Goal:To increase awareness of teen sleep needs and to change Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) middle and high school start times to later in the morning.

Click here to view the video SLEEP created to recognize the School Board for implementing Later High School Start Times.

Click here to hear why doctors support later high school start times

Research shows that later start times correspond wtih teen sleep needs and improve health, quality of life, and school performance.

Parents concerned about the health and educational impact of too-early high school start times have been working for change for ten years. SLEEP was started in January 2004 by Sandy Evans and Phyllis Payne. Thanks to the many parents, educators and health professionals who helped make this change happen!

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School Board Special Election August 2017

        Karen Keys-Gamarra Wins At-Large Seat on Fairfax County School Board

        Karen Keys-Gamarra, an attorney and child advocate, won election to the Fairfax County School Board in a special election that was held August 29. Keys-Gamarra won the at-large seat formerly held by Jeanette Hough, who resigned in May. Her term will run through December 31, 2019.

        More information about the School Board election is available online

FCPS Bell Schedules

All Fairfax students will have a start time after 8 am for at least ten or eleven of their thirteen years in Fairfax County, but there's more work that needs to be done for middle school students.

  • High schools start at 8:10 am (except for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology which starts at 8:40 a.m.)
  • Secondary schools —including middle school students at secondary schools—start at 8 a.m. 
  • Middle schools start at 7:30 am.  
  • Elementary schools start between 8 and 9:20 a.m.  Forty elementary schools retained their start time and others shifted by 5 or 10 minutes. There are 8 elementary schools with a start time change of more than 10 minutes and these schools all start at 8:30 a.m. or 8:35 a.m. (a time considered “ideal” by many parents). 
  • At the time of initial implementation, the School Board expressed interest in making further adjustments to middle and elementary school schedules. 


  • 73 of 95 counties in Virginia start high schools at 8 am or later
  • Adequate sleep improves learning, memory, mood, and performance in school, athletics and other extracurricular activities.
  • Change is cost effective. Brookings Institutution economists report that improved performance is equivalent to two extra months in school and that lifetime earnings increase for students with later start times
  • Teens with later high school start times sleep more than teens in Fairfax County (2 in 3 Fairfax teens are severely sleep deprived - lose 2 or more hours of sleep every night)
  • Students are less likely to fall asleep in class or while doing homework when the school day better coincides with a time of day when students are awake and alert and prepared to learn
  • Teens in districts with later high school start times have fewer teen car crashes (driving drowsy is like driving drunk)
  • Districts with later high school start times have less depression and a decreased need for medications to treat depression (1 in 4 Fairfax teens suffers from symptoms of depression)
  • Later high school start times are associated with decreased drop-out rates and improved attendance 
  • Fewer behavior problems or disciplinary referrals (interruptions to instruction)
  • More sleep means better sports performance and fewer sports injuries
  • Loudoun County high schools start at 9a.m., dismiss at 3:50 p.m. and have competitive sports & activites. Click here to see how their schedule works. ve sports & activites.
    Some of the Many Organizations Which Support Later Morning School Schedules
    Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Medical Society of Northern Virginia Northern Virginia Clinical Psychologists
    Virginia PTA Fairfax County Council of PTA's  League of Women Voters-Fairfax Area
    Fairfax County Federation of Teachers (FCFT) Coalition of the Silence Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform
    FCPS School Health Advisory Committee Northern Virginia Healthy Kids Coalition (9-5-2-1-0 Campaign) 

    American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

    Medical Society of Virginia American Thoracic Society Real Food For Kids
    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work Fairfax County School Board
    Society of Pediatric Nurses    
    Updated September 2017

SLEEP in Fairfax
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