CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham High students aren't getting enough sleep and that is the No. 1 factor that could measurably lead to a healthier student body.

That was the highlighted assessment that came from the student well-being report made by Chatham's student assistance counselors at the Monday night regular meeting of the Chatham Board of Education.

Counselors Lisa Lattarulo, Christine Mahoney and Alex Mandala gave an overview of the student wellness survey that 1,800 students - grades 6 through 12 - participated in last year.

Sign Up for Chatham Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

According to LaSusa (see the video below), studies document that starting school 8:30 a.m. or later for high school students mitigates risky behavior.

"Changing the starting time to 8:30 or later, every risky or problematic behavior decreases," LaSusa said. "The city of Norwalk just last month issued a big report. it's very comprehensive and I'm going to give all of you a copy of it. It's essentially a plan and the rationale for moving their high school starting time to a later time.

"You probably saw that the governor of California, yesterday, signed a bill into law that requires all high schools to start 8:30 or later beginning in the year 2022. This is something, in my view, is an urgent issue for the district ... We have to tackle the sleep monkey and find a way to get students more sleep. The majority of our juniors and seniors report getting less than six hours of sleep per night. That's not acceptable. That's not healthy and it exacerbates every other problematic behavior we are talking about."

LaSusa said that one of the major roadblocks to a possible changeover to a later time is the lack of school buses and drivers since a whole new bus route would have to be formed.

Student Assistance Counselor Alex Mandala talks about the correlation between less sleep and stress in students, and the increase of suicidal thoughts, which are related as well, in the video below.

Board member Michelle Clark talks about making an informed decision on how a later starting time would affect working parents and others in the video below.