Good morning. We know some were confused by the Boston Globe article from Saturday on school start times. We thought it would be helpful to explain what has happened regarding the start-time issue. What’s more, we felt sending out this announcement today, instead of Tuesday, would clarify this matter for our members at the beginning of the school week.
The School Department announced a few weeks ago that it was thinking of changing school start and end times taking effect in September 2017. We printed their announcement in this space. Given that the School Department’s process was late in development, its deliberations would have overlapped with the start of the school registration process, which begins after the holiday break.
In light of this, last Wednesday the BTU Executive Board passed a motion asking the department to take a step back and hold off on making changes unless the changes were thoughtful, transparent, and completed before the start of the registration process. Read the Executive Board motion. We transmitted the motion to the superintendent.
The next day, Thursday, December 1, the Globe ran a story about the Executive Board motion, and a number of others weighed in along the same lines: Let’s make sure the process is done right and does not interfere with parents’ school assignment choices.
On Friday, December 2, the school district withdrew its plan to change start and end times in a memo to the Boston Globe, and on Saturday the Globe ran a story about this. Read Saturday’s article. By withdrawing its plan to change start times, the district, we believe, made the right decision, and we look forward to a new and transparent process that will dig deep into the transportation issue, which as it stands now is costly and inefficient.
Some people read Saturday’s Globe article and were confused about Schedule A schools. The article contains this sentence:
There are no plans at this time to make changes to start and end times for the upcoming school year as it’s important that we take the time to work with the entire school community through this process,’ the School Department said.
Some have asked if the sentence implies that there will be no additional schools moving to Schedule A in September 2017. The answer to that is no: Schedule A is on track, as it was, to add schools in September 2017. Notwithstanding the ambiguity of the School Department statement in the Globe article, there will be 38 additional schools moving to schedule A as of September 2017, and each will be extending its school day by 40 minutes. The plan to move all schools to Schedule A was approved by all parties in December 2014.
The school district’s original plan to change school start times, now put on hold, would have extended these same 38 schools by 40 minutes and additionally moved an unknown number of other schools which currently start at either 7:30 or 8:30 to a new starting time of 9:30.
Given the additional year of planning, we hope that a new configuration of school start times can be developed for September 2018. Having schools start at 9:30 with an extended day is a very real hardship for many. We hope that the process the district undergoes in proposing its new transportation schedule is both transparent and inclusionary with all parties, so that school communities, parents, and staff, can take a close look at the “late” school problem.
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