After months of pressure from parents, the School Committee Tuesday voted to establish an ad hoc committee to study school start times – including the possibility of pushing back the start time for middle and high school students.
The vote was 5-0; members Susan Records and Carolyn Mark were absent.
At minimum, according to the charge, the panel will study flattening the bus transportation schedule from a three-tier to a two-tier system, synchronizing the start and end times of secondary and elementary schools and examining the start times for all the schools.
Some parents have been pushing for that third issue in particular since last winter. They argue that the 7:33 a.m. start time for Cole Middle School and EGHS is too early for teenage students who are staying up later.
While there is ample evidence to support later start times, there are long-standing traditions that push against it as well, such as after-school sports and jobs.
Citing potential opposition, resident Richard Millman, a doctor specializing in pediatric sleep medicine, encouraged the School Committee to recruit both proponents and opponents to the plan. And he stressed that the focus really had to be on kids getting more sleep.
“The basic thing is, if they don’t get a half hour more sleep, then don’t even get started,” said Millman.
The ad hoc panel would be made up of 8 to 10 members, including school administrators, teachers, parents and at least one student.
In addition to researching the topic, the panel will hold two public forums and two faculty and staff forums to gain feedback. The panel will also need to weigh potential fiscal impacts – the charge calls for solutions that are “cost effective.”
“It will not be cost neutral,” said School Committee Chairman David Green.
If you are interested in serving on the ad hoc committee, contact Chris DiMeglio at [email protected]
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