school start times

Recent Articles

District Officials Release School Start Times Survey Results; Public-Facing Committee To Convene in the Fall

An internal district working group has found that New Canaan should continue researching “slightly later start and end times” for the middle and high school and “slightly earlier” times for elementary schools, according to research that the superintendent of schools made public Monday night. As it considers whether to make changes so that high schoolers aren’t starting so early, New Canaan Public Schools “should prioritize student sleep and time for homework in making scheduling decisions,” according to a presentation that Dr. Bryan Luizzi shared during a meeting of the Board of Education. The Board of Ed remains far from reaching a decision—its members talked about convening a public-facing committee in September and reiterated that nothing will happen until the 2019-20 academic year, in part for budgeting reasons. While Luizzi reviewed much of the scientific evidence surrounding adolescent sleep and health (“The research has shown me that this is an important consideration for schools,” he said, adding that “the science of it certainly seems to be pointing to a need for schedules to be developed that facilitate student sleep”), an April survey from Hanover Research—of 1,312 middle and high school students, 1,126 parents and guardians, 379 school staff members and seven people from the wider community—found that respondents perceive starting school later would have a negative effect on homework (as well as activities outside of school). Yet the survey also found that respondents believe starting earlier complicates parents’ work schedules and before-school care, and has a negative impact on participation in school publications and performing arts programs.

“Ultimately, I don’t know what the answer is going to be,” Luizzi said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School and attended by more than 50 parents. Continue Reading →

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‘Internal Pressure from Other Places’: Superintendent of Schools Shouldn’t Lead Effort To Study Later Start Times, Parents Say

Because he must pay attention to people in the district who are opposed no matter what, the superintendent of schools isn’t in a good position to lead an internal working group looking into starting school later in the morning, according to members of a parents’ group that wants the change. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi is expected some time in June to share the administrative group’s thoughts on starting school later in the morning, but he should be arriving at a recommendation with input from the wider community, lifelong resident and New Canaan Public Schools parent David Rucci told members of the Board of Education at their most recent regular meeting. “It is very difficult, [according to] all the research that we have done, for the superintendent to be in charge of this,” Rucci said at the meeting, held May 21 in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “He is going to get a lot of internal pressure from other places and we understand that that is a problem for him. And it’s not easy for him to sort of negotiate through that. Continue Reading →

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Parents Call for Board of Ed To Open ‘Formal and Public’ Study on Later School Start Times

Eight months after hearing that they would be part of a working group dedicated to the task, parents in plain language on Monday night called for the Board of Education to open a “formal and public study” to evaluate later school start times in New Canaan. Saying she represented more than 600 New Canaan Public Schools parents who have signed an online petition advocating for later start times, Megan Steele said the group respectfully requested “that the Board of Ed members put to vote the immediate formation of a ‘School Start Time Committee’ to be formally and publicly created, per the bylaws, so that we the public can have full knowledge of any meetings, process and progress, and additionally provide meaningful input into this outcome.”

“It is a very important decision and we know it is a complicated one,” she told members of the Board of Ed at their regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We know we need to understand the costs, the logistics and possible solutions. But we believe we must put our teens’ health first and take a holistic, creative approach to making this work. As parents and registered voters, we are entitled to this from our Board of Ed and school administration. Continue Reading →

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Letter: Last Week’s School Start Times Survey Lacked Context

On April 19, New Canaan parents and students were asked by New Canaan Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi to take an unannounced School Start Times Survey. Many adults and children who attempted to respond to the survey found it to be confusing, especially the parents of Saxe students. Furthermore, the survey was conducted before the district made any effort to inform parents about the important impact that school start times have on student health. Thus, many parents and students felt that they did not have enough knowledge of the issue to answer the questions in an informed way. Thanks to the New Canaan League of Women Voters, there is a great opportunity next week for the community to learn more about why the district is evaluating school start times: because decades of research has shown that a 7:30 a.m. start is detrimental to student health; it is harmful to such a degree that every major medical organization in the country has recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later. Parents, students and others in the community are invited to a panel discussion on adolescent sleep on May 3 at 7 p.m. in NCHS Wagner Room. Continue Reading →

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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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