It’s been a while since we’ve heard any news on the Start School Later movement. It appears that with schools like ours struggling to handle the issue independently, advocates are asking legislators to make it a state-wide mandate.
A representative of the Northborough-Southborough chapter of SSL* (which heads the state chapter) notified me that they were bringing their petition to the State House this morning.
The press release explains:
Despite compelling and consistent research demonstrating the benefits and feasibility of later start times, change has been slow. Although a handful of districts in Massachusetts have successfully delayed bell times, fear of change has stopped or delayed other local efforts to change. . .
Statewide legislation is necessary to mobilize Massachusetts communities to meet the goal of healthier school start times – and it will enable them to overcome the challenges presented by inter-community scheduling for academic and athletic events.
The movement in our district’s high school began in 2014 with research by members of the APTO (Algonquin Parent Teacher Organization). But while the school worked with parents from the Algonquin Start Time* movement to explore solutions, no solid progress was made.
One major issue presented was the increased transportation costs if ARHS bus schedules overlapped with K-8. The administration and some families were also concerned about the impact on athletic schedules.
At one point the administration explored a “transitional start period” to help ease students into the day. That morphed into teacher debates over how the schedule could be improved, and then again to schedule changes to meet apparently unmet education hours in the school.
No real progress has been reported out of the school for the past year. The last update I can find is Superintendent Johnson’s answer to a parent at a Regional School Committee meeting in December. She referred to all the work that had been done on the topic (which appeared to be from past years) and followed with a promise that the district would continue to explore the issue.
This morning, Mary Hamaker, head of our district’s chapter of SSL*, is in Boston helping efforts to make the cause a priority at the state level.