I   wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if the next huge trend in public education is starting the school day later in the morning than we're all used to.

But probably not in my lifetime.

Maybe not even in my grandchildren's lifetimes.

Because changes like this don't happen overnight, though it is happening already in some parts of the country.

Hey, I recall a time almost 60 years ago, when we caught the bus at 8 a.m. and classes started around 8:20 a.m. And the bell sounded around 3:10 p.m. to end the school day. Now I might be a little off on that because, after all, it was 60 years ago.

But that's how I remember it.

That meant I had plenty of time to get to school every day if I was out of bed, dressed, ate breakfast and was out of the door by 7:55 a.m. Some days I didn't jump out of bed until 7:30 a.m.

And I don't think that schedule has changed all that much in all the years since. Maybe five or 10 minutes one way or the other. For some kids, but not all. I know in some school districts, school buses have to do double duty. Some kids have to catch a bus earlier than others, which means they have to be out of bed by 5:30 a.m. and on their way to school by 6:30 a.m. or thereabouts.

And it's different in every school district.

What that means is some school children must be awakened in the morning a full two hours before I did almost 60 years ago.

Grab your clocks. Figure it out. Up at 5:30 a.m. after a good night's sleep of eight or nine hours means kids today must be in bed by about 8:30 p.m.

Now maybe that's not a huge deal for your elementary or middle-school students, but try to get a high-schooler in bed by 8:30 p.m. and you've got a fight on your hands. It won't fly. That goes for 9:30 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., either.

Yet all the studies done in the last 20 years, according to an Associated Press article published in last Friday's York Dispatch, show that students of all ages -- but especially teenagers -- would do a lot better academically, would be more fully rested and would be less likely to be tardy for school or miss school altogether if classes started later in the morning.

Now I admit my immediate old-school reaction to such news was phooey on that. Part of the learning process as a child includes building self-discipline, which includes developing good sleep habits, an ability to rise and shine, managing a morning routine, getting to school on time and performing well in school, once there.

Because one of these days -- hopefully -- these kids are going to be going to jobs. So all of those learned habits will come in handy then.

Might as well learn them early in life.

Yes, that's what I thought. For about 10 minutes.

Then I came to the realization that starting school later in the day -- I'd even suggest around 9 a.m. or later would be perfect -- would not only be better for super well-rested students who wouldn't have to get out of bed until 7:30 a.m., but for parents, as well.

It means kids would be on the bus by 8:15 a.m. or 9 a.m. and the school day would be over by 4 or 5 p.m., which means kids would be arriving back home by 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Approximately. Please don't hold me to the minute.

But in an era where many, if not most, parents hold jobs, imagine the scheduling and financial benefits to them if the school schedule were more closely aligned with adult work schedules.

Parents' work schedules are all over the map these days, but most probably work between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. So the biggest concern would be that first hour after school.

OK, I know there is no schedule that is going to be perfect for every set of parents or every child. But it seems to me a schedule designed to eliminate those minutes at the end of the day, when buses drop kids off at home and before parents get home from work, would be a blessing in a lot of ways.

Not the least of which is better performance in school.

Decades of sleep research have shown that school attendance and performance is improved by later starting times. It has something to do with human biorhythms and sleep-wake patterns, particularly in teenagers.

That is the reason we're sending our children to school isn't it? Better academic performance.

Of course there are complications with such a drastic change, though most of them have to do with adjusting transportation and after-school sports schedules.

But one study revealed what most of us already know if we'd just think about it -- people do adjust. "The things people had feared -- how transportation would be affected, how sports would be affected -- became the new normal and people adjusted," said Megan Kuhfeld, a graduate student who's been studying late-start programs since she was an undergrad at Duke University.

Hey, I'm old school, so I'm not opposed to the way school schedules are done now. Why should I be? Doesn't affect me in the least.

At the same time, though, I do pay taxes. So I'm all for giving students their best shot at being successful, being better educated. If that means starting school a little later in the day, I can certainly make the adjustment.

I'm not going to fret about it too much, though. If it happens at all, it almost surely won't be in my lifetime.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhick s@yorkdispatch.com.