Letter to BOE: Find a Way To Move Forward with School Start Times Change


Dear BOE,

Although the TC’s vote Thursday night to cut $1 million is disappointing, I hope you will still honor your policy decision to start school times later. 

Your belief in the policy has not changed. The science has not changed. Only your ability to achieve this goal has been challenged.

Yes, these are tough times. Everyone will be doing more with less this year. However, the science of sleep and our children’s health must prevail—even in these times. Especially in these times. So yes, something else will have to fall away. However, there is no program or administrator more important than their health.

I encourage you all to do what may seem like the impossible. To find a way to still move forward with later start times given the now approved budget.

It is ironic, inconsistent and downright foolish for us as a society to faithfully adhere to the CDC’s Guidelines per this virus and then to disregard that same organization’s guidelines regarding the science of sleep for middle/high school students. 

Clearly, I’m preaching to the choir.

Please choose the more challenging and difficult path. Our students will benefit from it for years to come.

Thank you for everything you do.

Most sincerely,

Christa Kenin

8 thoughts on “Letter to BOE: Find a Way To Move Forward with School Start Times Change

  1. Can we take a week off from talking about changed school start times as if this is THE issue of our time and keep our focus and thoughts on healthcare workers, supply chain management and support people, people with the virus or who have died from it, kids out of school, and people who have lost their jobs?

  2. Considering that kids are out of school, and that most people need a break from the constant reality of Covid19, I think its fine to continue discussions on alternate topics.

  3. Later start times for high schoolers should not come at the cost of elementary and middle schoolers having early start times.

  4. I think we can all agree that health and wellbeing of our students is paramount but it should be for all. It is time that we open the objectives of the discussion which has evolved for all students.

    If we moved forward now two things would happen – (1) a loss of teachers due to required budget cuts to make up for the million and I think we can all agree our teacher are beyond heroic and in this climate we certainly don’t want to be cutting jobs especially for our most tenured (2) we will not be acting on all science that supports that health and wellness of all our students.

    I am quite confident that there is a solution. With the right focus on the right objective we can get there.

    – Start times between 8-9 for all students which would put us on par with Westport, Greenwich and Norwalk
    – Minimize budget impact so we can keep our prized teachers (the current scenario assumed a budget savings for loss of teachers – is this how we want to achieve it?)
    – Assumptions for the hard facts (a) only one set of buses in through Saxe at a given time (b) drop off for HS should be 10 minutes prior to school – can be shorted for other (c) miles of roads.

    Everything else can be fed into a model as flexible data points such as (a) elementary schools all starting at once (b) Saxe having different start times for instance.

    There is a way but we haven’t gotten there yet.

  5. Everything Jennifer Dalipi said. Our elementary students should not pay the price for the high schoolers’ start time change. I also would never cut teacher funding for this cause.

  6. It has been fairly consistent for proponents of this initiative to completely ignore the change in elementary school start times, as if it wasn’t part of the plan. In doing so they focus only on Medical research from the CDC and AAP on sleep recommendations for HS students and ignore those same recommendations for Elementary school children. They often mention the Health of “our” Children, but they are really only referring to teens, as no one has provided a study yet that indicates it is healthy for an elementary school child to be deprived of sleep. Or that they would somehow be better equipped to handle sleep deprivation.
    The Board of Education budget, which was originally up ~4% (higher than guided, CPI, and other town services), has been consistently conveyed as “very tight” with little or no waste. I am not sure how the BOE could justify finding $1MM (1/3 of the budget increase) out of thin air, without seriously jeopardizing the basic necessities for education of our children. If this does happen it would signal either near incompetent levels of accounting (a $1 million error) or demonstrate such bad faith by the BOE and administration in its budget discussions that both the BOF and Town Council would rightfully never look at the BOE or the current administration the same again.

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