Update, December 22, 2017
Superintendent Chang has resolved NOT to move forward with these changes for next school year. Instead, he will continue a dialog on how to restructure the routines.
I’ve been hearing from many parents concerned about the new early start times for the Winship Elementary School and the Gardner Pilot Academy. They have expressed very legitimate and heart-felt concerns.
This is a City issue, not a state issue. My sense is that the Boston leaders are listening closely to the concerns raised. I’ve discussed the situation with Councilor Ciommo and he shared the following statement:
Thank you for your comments regarding the new start times in Boston Public Schools. While I am glad to see that high school start times have been pushed back to later in the morning, I am very concerned how the earlier start times in our elementary schools will impact students and their families.
At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, December 14, 2017, I co-sponsored an order for a hearing to provide a public forum to hear concerns of those directly impacted as well as get answers from BPS officials as to how they can justify making start times in (some) elementary schools over 2 hours earlier. This hearing notice is attached to this email.
I believe that this hearing will allow the City Council to directly question and challenge the methodology BPS used to come to their decision. This hearing will also provide parents and others impacted the opportunity to go on the record with their opinion of these time changes. Once this hearing is scheduled, myself and the council will share the information so that any interested parties can testify in person, or send written testimony.
I urge you to continue to share your concerns with BPS by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also be aware that a public meeting to discuss this matter is scheduled at Brighton High School on December 21, from 6-8 PM.
Additionally, I received a copy of this letter from the Superintendent to parents, which leaves open the possibility of some adjustments:
December 15, 2017
Dear Boston Public Schools Families:
Over the past few days, many families and stakeholders have voiced concerns about changes to school bell times for 2018-19. My team and I at the Boston Public Schools appreciate this feedback.
BPS believes the start and end times policy is a sound one. We are committed to creating an equitable bell times schedule that helps all students reach their full potential. Passed by the Boston School Committee on December 6, the policy prioritizes the following: starting secondary schools after 8:00 AM, dismissing elementary school students before 4:00 PM, prioritizing students with special needs and medical issues, reinvestment into classrooms, and before and after school programming. BPS plans to adhere to this policy.
However, BPS is committed to addressing the input we’ve received and trying to find solutions to concerns that have been raised. Schedules will be finalized in mid-January. BPS hopes this additional time will allow the district to work through issues that have been shared regarding start and end times. In order to do this, we need your help. We ask that you join us at one of 10 meetings we are holding next week . We look forward to discussing constructive solutions with our school communities.
There will be updates to the School Committee at its January 10 and January 14 meetings on the status of these efforts, and the district will make sure to communicate with families and school leaders throughout this process.
Families who are making enrollment decisions for next year will be able to register for schools when the Priority Registration Period begins on January 3. If any adjustments to bell times are made to schools chosen by families during this period, they will have the opportunity to amend their choices within the Priority Registration Period, which will end on Friday, February 9.
In the meantime, we encourage you to stay informed on the process of changing bell times for next year. Make sure you visit our website, bostonpublicschools.org/starttimes, for the latest updates. Additionally, you can email email@example.com with questions.
I wish you a happy, healthy, and safe winter vacation.
Tommy Chang, Ed.D.
Feel free to post thoughts here if you’d like — I’ll draw them to the attention of Boston leaders. But the most important channels for communication on the issue are the meetings and email addresses officially sanctioned by Boston.
December 19 Letter
Senator Brownsberger transmitted a letter to Mayor Walsh, Superintendent Chang, and School Committee Chair Michael O’Neill on December 19 regarding school start times.