District To Examine Later Start Times at New Canaan Public Schools


District officials this year will look into whether starting New Canaan Public Schools later in the morning would benefit students, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said Monday night.

The Board of Education has discussed the prospect informally in the past and this year will “put some resources” behind conducting research and making recommendations “about whether school start times are in line with best practices on meeting students’ needs,” Luizzi said during a board meeting.

“We are beginning to look at this,” Luizzi said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School.

“Some schools around us do. Wilton has had a later start time for a period of years. Newtown is changing their start time by a few minutes going into next year. There are a lot of communities. Ridgefield is looking at this as well. So I think it’s a good time for us to take a look. But we don’t know what the recommendations will be and we may recommend to keep things exactly the way they are. We may recommend making some changes.”

The comments came during the Board of Ed’s first read of district goals, which are updated periodically. Overarching goals include teaching and learning, communications and professional practice, and within those the district details specific objectives.

New Canaan High School currently runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. Seventh- and eighth-graders at Saxe Middle School operate on the same schedule, while fifth- and sixth-graders’ days run from 8:20 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.

“As you know, thinking about school start times, there are many variables that go into that,” Luizzi said. “Transportation is one of them. Greenwich is adjusting its start time this year and they are doing so at a pretty significant cost. So we want to look at the models that are out there and look at those that have changed their start times and see if it’s had a reported positive change on their student body as a result of doing that. We want to look at those that are recently doing it, see some of the challenges, struggles that they’ve had and the solutions that they have applied to the question, and see if there’s a good fit for us or not.”

Luizzi wondered aloud whether there’s a real and existing problem that pushing back the start of the school day would solve.

“Not really, but I speak to students and teachers and others, to parents, we are at a good place,” he said. “But if we can make some changes and make things better and do it in a way where the benefit far outweighs the cost, then it is certainly worth it. So one of our objectives this year is to do some research around that, talk to folks, get a group together and make some recommendations.”

12 thoughts on “District To Examine Later Start Times at New Canaan Public Schools

  1. The League of Women Voters conducted an intense study regarding this issue. I believe they spent an entire year reading and studying and engaging the public, and then presented their results to the town/and/or the Board of Ed. It was back about 10 years ago but their work and findings are surely still worth reviewing. Perhaps the Board should begin by contacting them.

  2. Later is better. It’s just common sense, and(by the way) backed up by most studies on the subject

    Retired Teacher and former NCHS mom

  3. Wouldn’t delaying school start times create issues for parents needing to get to work? Especially in a town that is NYC commuter oriented, this seems like it would place a burden on parents.

  4. So glad this issue is being brought up AGAIN in New Canaan! Hopefully the results will be taken seriously and will help to benefit the physical needs of the high school students.

  5. This is a good idea.
    Teens need their sleep!
    My kids need to get the bus at 6:45am and depending on the time of year, sometimes it’s still dark out.
    There is scientific evidence that demonstrates & proves why kids between the ages of 13-19 have a difficult time going to sleep early and waking up early. Hormone production such as Melatonin have a lot to do with it.

  6. I can’t believe they are considering spending time and money exploring an issue that was already well researched by the League of Women Voters. If I recall correctly, the group found overwhelming evidence that the high school should start later, and the younger kids should start earlier. For whatever mysterious reason, the study was ignored, and nothing changed.
    So shouldn’t the first question be whether the school district is willing to change schedules, should this study come out similarly? In my opinion, there should not be a study. The question was asked and answered already, so the schools should go ahead and implement changes to the schedules.

  7. As Dr. Judith Owens, a world renowned adolescent sleep scientist from Harvard Medical says regarding start time “to do nothing is to do harm.” Here in Greenwich where we are changing bell times to meet CDC and AMA recommendations we will spend about 60 cents per day per student. We’ve decided that’s a worthwhile investment in our children to protect their health and boost academic performance. Children change bell times routinely with different grade levels but teachers and rail commuters manage to get to work on time. I’m confident New Canaan will find a manageable and affordable solution right for your community.

  8. Some how generations of successful New Canaan students have been able to function at a high level even with early start times. If your child is tired, they should go to bed earlier or learn to live off less sleep. When these kids get jobs later in life will they request to begin their day at 10 rather than 9 so they can perform better? Look at Greenwich which foolishly shifted to later start times, they are facing a litany of problems with busses, after school programs and sports. High school students should be learning personal responsibility, not that the world will shift to accommodate their sleep schedule. Of course kids want to sleep late but the school schedule should not change because parents are sick of having to roust a slumbering teenager. Please don’t change the start times to appease a few vocal critics.

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