Delayed School Start Times Proposed to Combat Chronic Absenteeism 

BRAC releases research on delayed school start times 

Baton Rouge, LA (April 8, 2024) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released research findings on Capital Region students’ chronic absenteeism and proposed delayed school start times to combat the issue. Read the full findings at BRAC’s BR By the Numbers Substack here

“High schools across the Capital Region are suffering from high rates of chronic absenteeism, and it’s only gotten worse post-COVID. It doesn’t matter whether the school is urban, suburban, or rural, or whether it primarily serves high-income or low-income students – almost all are struggling to get kids to school,” said Jake Polansky, BRAC manager of economic and policy research. “Students don’t get enough sleep, and research has shown that, when students don’t get enough sleep, they’re less likely to attend school. Studies, including a list of those compiled by the American Psychological Association, have shown that schools shifting to later start times see increased attendance, better academic performance and, unsurprisingly, fewer sleepy kids in class.” 

Florida and California, recently passed bills ensuring middle schools start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Louisiana House Bill 725 aims to do the same thing in this state. The bill affords school leaders and administrators two full academic years to plan before the legislation would kick in during the 2026-2027 school year. BRAC supports this legislation. 

Key findings from BRAC’s research include:   

  • 51,000 Capital Region students were truant last year and more than half of them – 26,300 – were chronically absent, meaning they missed at least 15 days of school; 
  • One economic model projects widespread economic gains if school start times are pushed back across the country, including a $1.2 billion increase to Louisiana’s GDP over the next ten years; and, 
  • Other research shows that juvenile crime could fall, later start times means later end times, resulting in fewer idle hours in the late afternoon. 

BRAC’s BR By the Numbers Substack provides readers and residents greater insight to the data looked at while making the business case for Baton Rouge to companies and supporting public policy that promotes economic growth. Subscribe to the BR By the Numbers Substack at

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber   

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is an aggressively ambitious regional economic development organization with a bias for action. BRAC seeks to push Baton Rouge beyond the status quo, unleash its potential, and support a vibrant business community that believes the finish line does not exist. BRAC seeks to accelerate economic opportunity in the Baton Rouge Area, for everyone, through BRING IT! Baton Rouge, its five-year, regional strategic plan. Learn more about BRAC at


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