Letter: Barrington residents being misled on start time change

Posted

To the editor:

A group of concerned parents, teachers and students have joined together to try to persuade the school committee to delay the implementation of the new school start times until a proper task force can be established.

We are United for Success.

We are not afraid of change, just a change that was made without the input of the teachers, students and parents who are affected most.

The new policy seemed to emerge from the health and wellness committee comprised of central office administrators, a school committee member, a nurse and many parents of non-high school age children. Chairwoman Brody stated that other communities like Wilton, Conn. swayed her vote. Yet this community had a two-year process that identified goals, included stakeholders and completed surveys before and after the change. Wilton, Conn. changed the high school start time to 8:15 a.m. East Greenwich, which recently changed their start time to 8 a.m., had a committee which included high school/middle school teachers, parents, and students. They also conducted surveys and identified goals.

Minutes from the health and wellness committee on 2/4 of 2015 and 11/19 of 2014 stated that the committee should focus on bus schedules and local examples (Wilton, Conn.) and that surveys would be “sabotage.” Clearly the committee was trying to gain support and further health and wellness committee interests by limiting input and playing a start time “shell game.”

A careful reading of the studies cited shows that with the current 7:40 a.m. start time 44 percent of students already get the recommended amount of sleep, and that by moving to 8:30 a.m., that number increases slightly to 57-60 percent. A difference of only 13-16 percent.

Moreover, this change may negatively affect younger children who need more sleep but will have to get up earlier in order to get to school.

How can our school committee justify an 8:30 a.m. start time when only 13-16 percent more students may or may not get the recommended amount of sleep? Many students, parents, families, teachers, taxpayers and community members will be negatively affected by this change.

It was discouraging that as of the last school committee meeting Jan. 21, school committee members didn’t state the actual cost of implementing this new policy and still have no answer as to what will happen to after school activities.

How can the school committee vote on policy without identifying the problem, setting goals, conducting surveys, researching relevant studies and evaluating the full cost of implementation?

Many students are not in favor of this change and the majority of teachers don’t support this new start time. It’s time to respectfully ask the school committee to put this item back on the agenda, reopen the discussion and move forward with a more inclusive task force.

Dr. Lisa Daft

Barrington

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