Dear Board of Finance and Town Council members,
We write to express our support for the Board of Education budget, in its entirety, including the funding to change school start times. Most of us moved to New Canaan for the quality of our schools and the educational experiences for our children. The recent town survey confirmed this. In order to maintain our quality of schools, to stay competitive and to continue to attract new residents, we must continually innovate and improve our educational offerings. We believe that the Board of Education budget balances excellence with efficiency to offer an incredible educational experience for our children that will continue to attract others to our town. One of the most important areas to fund next year is the change to school start times to comply with the 2014 guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is a pressing health issue and the funding for it should be looked at through that lens. The district’s budget is already lean—the cost to allow children to get sufficient sleep every night should be funded in addition to the established cost to operate our high-quality district. Our Administration and Board of Education have been carefully evaluating this change for three years with an almost unanimous vote from the BOE to include funding in this budget. They have met with stakeholders and provided numerous opportunities for public feedback. Any decision that changes the start and end times for all schools will not make everyone happy—change in a community is very difficult. However, the Administration’s proposal for changing school start times beginning in Fall 2020 is the right thing for New Canaan to do. While changing start times will be new for our town, it is not new around the country or in Fairfield County; four nearby towns have already changed or plan to change school start times for next year in order to meet medical guidelines: Wilton, Greenwich, Westport and Norwalk.