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I just received the Newton School Committee’s email summarizing Monday’s meeting.  I clicked through to the High School Principals’ Update in which there was a section about “High school start times”.

What caught my eye was this – “we accept that there will be less classroom time under a new schedule in comparison to our current schedule”

We’ve got a 9th grader in this house so I’ve been following the High School start time issue for a while.  In all the discussion over the last few years this was the first I’ve heard about starting later by shortening the school day.

I contact Steve Siegel on the School Committee to ask about it and here’s what he had to say –

“Stakeholders expressed a strong preference for later start times, and also a strong preference for finishing times that are the same or not much later than they are currently.  How do you do this without adding days to the school calendar?  This got the school department and principals thinking — We have identified academic pressure as being detrimental to the mental and physical well-being of our students, and we have been exploring ways to reduce this pressure. 

The NPS high school day is an outlier with the greatest number of classroom hours in the state.  That’s because we are Newton and we want our kids to have/learn/do everything!  So now we are rethinking our schedule and believe that a shorter academic school day will offer a meaningful contribution to student wellness, by giving our students more time to breath. 

The proposed reduction in classtime will bring us in line with many of our academic peer communities and we think this is a good thing independent of when high schools will start.”

What do you think?  Are Newton’s kids school days too long?  Is starting later and shortening the school day killing two important birds with one stone or undermining our kids education?




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