October 12 2017

School Committee Delaying Vote on Later BHS Start Times to November

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington School Committee has decided to delay a planned vote on changing the Burlington High School start time to 8:30 a.m. for a couple of weeks.


The committee said at a recent meeting that it was planning on taking the vote during its October 24 meeting. However, after meeting with parents during four community forums last week and hearing their concerns the group decided that it needed to gather more information before taking a vote.


Some of the biggest concerns raised by parents were about impacts the change would have on scheduling, both at the high school and at the other schools. At one forum BCAT attended and taped there were multiple parents of elementary school students who were unhappy that the move to a later start time at the high school pushed the start times at the middle school and elementary school to earlier in the morning. The middle school would start 10 minutes earlier than it does now and the grammar schools would start 15 minutes earlier under the plan proposed by the School Department.


Superintendent Eric Conti said it was difficult to avoid impacting the other grades if the town wanted to keep the same number of buses and the same number of busing tiers it has now. Each additional bus, he said, would cost the town roughly $57,000 a year.


During Tuesday night’s meeting the board did discuss some possible options that included mixing some of the bus schedules of the different schools. One possible plan Conti explained would have a couple of the elementary schools move to slightly earlier pick-up times but have another start later, something that can also make mornings difficult for parents who have to get to work.


Parents at the forum also raised concerns about the impact the later start time would have on after school activities. The fear is that even now when the students get out at 2 p.m. they are often waiting for buses to take them to sporting events that go well into the evening. Also music and theater rehearsals take up a lot of time. The concern is that with the last bell ringing at 3:05 p.m. these activities would be pushed even later.


Conti said that he is in discussion with Athletic Director Shaun Hart and Performing Arts Director John Middleton-Cox about what impact they thought the later school start times would have on their programs and that they would be available to speak to the School Committee at its October 24 meeting.

He also said it was possible that the wait for buses to get to games would be reduced under the new plan because there would be less of a crunch in the busing schedule.


Still, with these, and some other, concerns unresolved and with Hart and Middleton-Cox coming to the next meeting, the members of the School Committee decided to hold off the vote. They said they would await new information in two weeks and possibly vote on November 14.


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