Inside Education: Input sought on start times

The Ridgefield Board of Education (BOE) is contemplating changing school start times for implementation in the 2018-19 school year. The decision by the BOE is expected to be made by the end of October.

The BOE is seeking feedback. There are multiple ways to become involved in the discussion. In late September, a survey with a few options along with maintaining the current start times will be sent to stakeholders. The results of the survey are critical to inform the board of the sentiment in the community towards potential change and community priorities. In addition to the survey, community members can write to the BOE, speak in public comment at the beginning of a BOE meeting, and/or reach out to BOE members individually and RPS administration to share their thoughts.

The topic has been discussed at the board table for more than a year in light of current research regarding adolescent sleep and the recommendations of multiple medical associations (including, but not limited to, the American Medical Academy and American Academy of Pediatrics) that adolescents should not start school prior to 8:30 a.m. More information regarding the research and the BOE discussions can be found on the RPS website, Board of Education section.

Discussions about healthy school start times are occurring throughout the nation. Other nearby districts implementing a change this year are Greenwich and Newtown. New Canaan and Norwalk are actively considering a change. Wilton has had later start times for the high school for more than a decade.

The start time initiative is part of a bigger district and BOE commitment to the health and wellness of our students. Key initiatives this year are policy and regulation frameworks around homework and grading; teacher professional development in the area of emotional intelligence; and continued partnership with Project Resilience and its parent education series.

This column was submitted to The Press by the nine members of the Ridgefield Board of Education.