BOE's School Start Time Committee to Present Information on Tuesday, Dec 8 at 7:00 pm at the BMS Cafeteria

It has been over a year since the Board of Education’s ad hoc School Start Time Committee began looking into the possibilities, the benefits, and the disadvantages of a later start time for the Rhinebeck School District’s secondary-level students. At the start of the upcoming December 8, 2015 BOE meeting, the Committee will outline the information gathered to this point for the benefit of the full Board and any interested members of the public who wish to attend. The School Start Time presentation will begin at 7:00 pm in the BMS cafeteria and will include the opportunity for public comment.  The regular Board of Education meeting agenda will commence after the School Start Time segment, by or around 8:00 pm.


During the 2014-15 school year, an ad hoc Committee of the Board of Education was formed to look into the possibilities of changing the school start time in Rhinebeck and what effects, both positive and negative, would be inherent in such a change.  The Board’s School Start Time Committee - Deirdre d’Albertis, Diane Lyons, and Laura Schulkind, assisted by Superintendent Joseph Phelan, Assistant Superintendent Thomas Burnell, and others - was charged with reviewing, researching, discussing, and making a recommendation to the full Board. The Committee was instructed by the Board to keep any recommendation cost neutral.


The Committee continues to examine the details of various options, as well as to collect and review stakeholder feedback.  To date, no recommendation has been reached by the School Start Time Committee, much less made to and/or decided upon by the full Board of Education.


The topic of school start time has been a point of serious discussion in the Rhinebeck school district at least several times over the past 20 years. However, the impetus for considering such a change at this time was a recent series of recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control. Although educators have realized for some time that teenagers require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night, the national conversation about school start time has become more insistent, particular, and conclusive in the past several years.


To that point, in August 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following recommendations made the year before by the American Academy of Pediatrics, declared insufficient sleep among adolescents to be a public health concern best addressed by adopting later school start times.


Although the CDC suggested an ideal start time of 8:30 AM, many schools and school districts have been unable to adopt such a radical shift in scheduling for a host of valid reasons. However, some studies have shown that delaying start time, even by as little as half an hour, provides health and wellness benefits for young people, improving sleep, motivation, and class attendance while reducing daytime drowsiness, depression, and caffeine use.


The Committee initially identified four options to investigate regarding a potential change in school start time. As a result of stakeholder input and discussion this past Fall, some of these options have been recently modified, in particular the CLS start and dismissal times under the “Shift Option” below.  In no particular order of preference, these options are:                                    


Recent stakeholder input also has resulted in the development of a fifth option that the Committee is just now reviewing, a hybrid of the Flip and Shift options.  


After gathering initial information, the Committee determined that 2015-16 would be spent educating and collecting additional feedback from various stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, and non-instructional staff. The Committee is committed to considering the impact any change would have on all members of our community.


Accordingly, the Committee has held a number of meetings with Administrators, the Athletic Director, and a transportation consultant to gather information and opinions on each of the options. Parents students, teachers, and non-instructional staff have been provided with the opportunity to participate in a survey of their opinions on the topic. A presentation was made at each faculty meeting, and a series of meetings were held after school to provide interested school staff with an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback in person. Several "coffee hours" with the Board of Education were held to solicit input on the topic from parents and students.


After gathering information from these groups and presenting it publicly at the Board meeting on December 8, the ad hoc School Start Time Committee hopes to review additional feedback from all stakeholders in order to determine the details of all possible options and make a recommendation, affirmatively or otherwise, to the full Board for action. An affirmative recommendation, if approved by a majority of the full Board of Education could be implemented, possibly on a pilot basis, as early as the 2016-17 school year. 



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