School Committee considers implementing later high school start times in 2019 school year


Students arrive late, around 8:00 a.m.

Rose Skylstad

Superintendent David Fleishman announced later start times may be implemented in Newton high schools starting in the 2019-2020 school year in an email to families March 7.
The proposal, which has been under consideration since 2015, aims to allow teenagers a sufficient amount of time to sleep.
“The research is pretty clear about later start times and how they impact the social and emotional health of students,” said Fleishman. However, he added, “this is not an easy thing to do.”
Initially, students and parents were concerned that later start times would lead to later end times, pushing back after-school activities and homework, which would lead students to stay up later and get the same amount of sleep, said Fleishman. To accommodate these worries, the new proposal involves a later start time, around 8:30 a.m., and an end time no later than 3 p.m..
“Even an extra half an hour could do wonders,” said sophomore Celia Friedman.
Despite its benefits, this change will be difficult to implement, as it requires a complete reworking of the high school schedule, according to Fleishman. In addition, the school committee aims to coordinate the schedules of both North and South, adding a new layer of difficulty.
This idea also would increase transportation prices. Currently, the busses rotate, first picking up high school students, next middle school students, and then elementary students. However, under this plan, the high school busses would not come earlier, so the school would need to pay for more busses.
Fleishman explained that committees from both North and South will coordinate in the next two years to solve these problems and iron out the details of this plan. According to Fleishman, it is difficult to appease every group in the community, but the committees will focus on “what’s best for the student life and experience.”  
“I am curious to see how it will work, but I definitely think it will benefit all students,” said Friedman.