Parent Letter re:Later Start Time Committee

Parent Letter re:Later Start Time Committee
Posted on 03/20/2017
Parent Letter re:Later Start Time CommitteeDear Parents & Guardians, 

I am reaching out to you directly in an effort to explain the Later Start Time (LST) Committee’s intent, process and next steps as it pertains to the school district’s start time. 

During the 2015-2016 school year, the Board of Education made a decision to create the LST Committee to explore alternative school start times.  This decision arose from discussions taking place at the Ulster County School Boards Association and across the country as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control recommended that adolescents not begin school before 8:30 a.m. Their position on this issue came about because of a plethora of research and data which confirms that teenagers are biologically programed to fall asleep and wake later than younger children and adults. This is a natural shift in adolescence’s circadian rhythm and is evident in all cultures. Studies on this topic show that many of our teenagers are suffering from sleep deprivation and over time the continued lack of sleep negatively impacts their cognitive, mental and physical well-being. While there are many different causes contributing to this public health crisis, research suggests that the greatest contributing factor to sleep deprivation in teens is early school start times.   

The LST Committee recruited members from all stakeholders and has been holding public meetings on the third Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the district office for the past year and a half. Information has been disseminated through postings on our school district website and social media accounts, school messenger and through PTA school groups. 

The committee began this exploratory process with a thorough review of the existing research on this topic. It found that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that a schedule change could have a positive impact on our students and therefore decided to move forward with creating a proposal for the School Board’s consideration. Currently, the committee is awaiting the results of a transportation study, a visit to a school which has already adopted a later start time and information gained by attending a National Conference on this topic in April. Once the committee has the information necessary to create a proposed schedule change, that schedule will be mailed directly to all families along with a survey to collect feedback. The school community will be given the same opportunity to provide feedback. The responses provided by the community and faculty will be included in the committee’s proposal to the Board of Education.  

A proposal will be presented to the Board of Education sometime during the 2017-2018 school year.  Members of the School Board will then be asked to carefully review the proposal and vote to either implement the recommended change for the 2018-2019 school year or to keep our current schedule.   

Additionally, the committee members would like you to know that they have heard the concerns expressed by many parents and members of the community.  How will a change impact our students’ opportunities to participate in after school activities? Will a change cause hardships on parents who rely on older students for childcare? Do later start times impact students’ employment? How will the sleep patterns of our younger students be affected by a change in their schedule? These are just some of the questions that have been raised, and the committee is working diligently to examine these issues and all other aspects involved with this initiative.  

On behalf of the Later Start Time Committee, I encourage you to share your thoughts and concerns with us as we continue to navigate through this exploratory process.  You can do so by attending committee meetings, completing a contact form for the Board of Education (which is located on our school website) or by calling our district clerk at (845) 687-2400 ext. 4803.  As always, your input is valued and necessary. Thank you.  

Sincerely,


Ms. Nicole Parete 
LST Committee Chair