school start times

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Message to Board of Ed: Local Pediatricians Support Later School Start Times

The medical professionals at a well-established pediatric practice in New Canaan support efforts to re-examine start times in the school district and have advocated for starting later in the morning, according to information presented Monday night to the Board of Education. The four doctors at New Canaan Pediatrics LLC told the school board said that communities with later start times “have shown increased academic performance, reported decreased mood disorders and experienced significantly reduced automobile accident rates in teens,” according to a letter that a local parent advocating for later start times read out at the group’s regular meeting. Evidence in support of later school start times “includes both the unique biologic needs of adolescents and the demonstrable health and safety benefits realized by communities that have later start times,” according to the letter, read by Karen Willett. “In our practice we clearly see a trend of teenagers from neighboring communities with later start times reporting more sleep than those from communities, like New Canaan, that have earlier start times. We understand that the practical hurdles to changing existing start times are significant but the compelling benefit to our children and the community in general makes the change to a later start time for middle school and high school students worth it. Continue Reading →

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VIDEO: New Canaan Kids on Starting School Later in the Morning

Starting school later in the morning would affect a wide swath of New Canaan, from teachers, administrators, coaches and bus drivers to parents, local business owners and organizations whose programming is built, in part, around the school day as it currently is set. Since the prospect of later start times first emerged at a public meeting last summer, New Canaan Public Schools administrators have studied the matter internally and, at the most recent Board of Ed meeting, parents who favor a chance made their voices heard. One key group that hasn’t yet weighed in are school-age kids. So, I asked NCHS graduate and videographer Nils Andersson to head downtown last Friday afternoon and ask them what they think. The video above captures some of their responses. —Michael Dinan Continue Reading →

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Parents Advocate for Later School Start Times Before Board of Ed

Citing multiple medical organizations that say sleep deprivation causes a slew of health problems in children and adolescents, parents on Monday night told district officials that they’re eager to weigh in on an open question, now facing New Canaan Public Schools, about whether to start later in the morning. Karen Willett, a parent of 11- and 6-year-old boys at Saxe Middle School and West School, told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the CDC have all issued policy statements “about the negative impact of early start times on student mental and physical health.”

“We realize that the decision on start times cannot be made in a vacuum,” Willett said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School

“As in every other district that has successfully changed start times, there are cost complications and logistical issues to be resolved. However, as we go through the process of addressing the difficulties, let’s also stay focused on the reason we are addressing this topic in the first place. Because that extra hour of sleep every day will help improve the mental and physical health of thousands of our children. In one of his budget presentations, [Superintendent of Schools] Dr. [Bryan] Luizzi said he often gets questions during the budgeting cycle from the finance people—and I’m paraphrasing here—‘What expenses can be deferred?’ and ‘What can be done later?’ and his response in regard to the student-impacting expenses, if we know a program is needed, we owe it to the current cohort of children to implement as soon as possible, because they will not be able to benefit from it if we defer it. Continue Reading →

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District Rules Out Later School Start Times for 2018-19 Academic Year

District officials plan this spring to present data about how starting school later in the morning could affect areas such as bus scheduling, costs, extracurricular activities, homework and classroom learning—framing a wider community discussion that would push any possible change until after next academic year, according to the superintendent of schools. A team of New Canaan Public Schools administrators currently is working with a third-party company to gather data about what starting school later would entail, with an eye on taking that information and developing, with the aid of a different consultant, “some possible recommendations both of what could happen and what would be the cost-benefit” of various scenarios, Dr. Bryan Luizzi said. Those recommendations are to be presented to the Board of Education in the spring, Luizzi said. At that point, public hearings would open up so that input can be had from parents and the wider community. “It’s not simply a matter of starting later,” Luizzi said, adding that “you have to take time” to study comprehensively what would follow from a change to school start times prior to making a decision. Continue Reading →

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Superintendent: Working Group To Weigh Impact on Schedules, Homework, Wider ‘Ecosystem’ in Studying Later Start Times in New Canaan Public Schools

Officials are putting together a working group of parents, Board of Education members and New Canaan Public Schools representatives to study the widely discussed question of whether the district should implement later start times. That group will convene in two or three weeks and weigh considerations that include ways that starting school later would affect bus schedules, traffic, homework, extra help and extracurricular activities that include athletics, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi. A change to start times would ripple beyond the schools themselves to a larger “ecosystem,” Luizzi told in an interview, “so when you start to move one piece of it, everything else has to be looked at and often adjusted.”

“It is looking at the whole system and that’s why it’s much more complex than saying, ‘Just move it.’ It’s not impossible, either.”

The Board of Ed is commissioning research reports from a firm called Hanover that helped Greenwich with its research before that school district opted this year for later start times, Luizzi said. “We are working with them and we have crafted out a study to look at districts that have moved their start times successfully and to start identifying what are the common elements from those successful schools?” he said. “What they are developing now is the research questions. Continue Reading →

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