Jul 28, 2014

Change School Start Times: Good Idea?

A community forum will be held Thursday evening at the high school to air the ups and downs of changing the start times for all of Barrington's schools.

Change School Start Times: Good Idea? Change School Start Times: Good Idea? Change School Start Times: Good Idea?

A community forum at tomorrow evening, Jan. 26, will air the issue of changing the start times for the schools. It starts at 7 pm in the auditorium.

The full title of Thursday’s forum: “Changing School Start Times: A Good Idea for Barrington?” Supporters and opponents are expected to square off as the pros and cons are laid out there by guest speakers.

The positive impact on academic, athletic and other achievement for teenagers with a later school start time for teens is well-documented by studies into sleep. In short, teens who get up later in the morning seem to do better in school.

It’s primarily for this reason that the Barrington School Committee is looking hard at moving back the start time at the high school and middle school. But changing the start time at those schools will mean changing the start time at the elementary schools as well. So, all families with children will feel the impact.

The School Committee, Superintendent Robert McIntyre and the Barrington Public Schools Health and Wellness Committee, a subcommittee of the school board that has been pushing to change start times, are hoping for a large turnout.

Guest speakers at the forum will include:

Dr. Richard Millman, co-director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, who will discuss the science of sleep and the effects of insufficient sleep on children, especially teens;

Lisa Bogan of the Connecticut League of Women Voters, recognized as an expert on school start times who is the former vice-chairperson of the Wilton (CT) Board of Education. She will describe the ups and downs of the process Wilton went through when it shifted school start times about nine years ago.

Joining them on the stage will be McIntyre, who will present some possible scenarios for changing the start time that could be adopted in Barrington.

After the presentations, there will be a question-and-answer period for everyone.

A recent BarringtonPatch poll on school start times indicates that the primary bugaboo for those who voted is with bussing (39 percent of voters).

A BarringtonPatch poll run several weeks ago showed that 54 percent of voters favored a school start time of 8:30 am. The next favored start time was 8 am (30 percent of voters). Only 15 percent of voters wanted to keep the 7:40 am high school start time the same.

A host of community leaders also have been invited to the forum, including Police Chief John LaCross; George Finn, high school athletics director; and officials from all the schools, the Bayside YMCA, Barrington Education Foundation, and other groups that interact with children in Barrington.

The high school student-run Eagle News Network will be streaming the forum live on your computer if you can’t make the session. It also will be recorded for delayed viewing on your computer.

Read the reaction of some students at the high school to the possible time change at eastbayri.com.

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