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.”