Parent Information and Feedback Session on Final Decision Regarding Bethel Public Schools Start Times, Nov. 12th

Report by Paula Antolini
October 15, 2018 8:28PM EDT


Parent Information and Feedback Session on Final Decision Regarding Bethel Public Schools Start Times, Nov. 12th

Message from Dr. Christine Carver, Bethel Public Schools Superintendent:

Dear Parents and Guardians and Staff,

Since the Fall of 2017, the district established a School Start Times Committee which includes teachers, administrators, parents, Park and Recreations personnel, students, and the bus company, to examine our school start times.

The committee was formed for two reasons: (1) to put all elementary schools on the same time schedule to address the third grade moving to Johnson School as part of the renovations at Rockwell and Johnson School and (2) to address the growing body of research regarding school start time and the effects on academic achievement for secondary students. The only decision that has been made to date is that in the 2019-2020 school year, all of our elementary schools will be on the same time schedule. No other decisions or recommendations have been made at this point.

As you are aware, in August and September we sent out surveys to get stakeholder feedback for the committee focused on evaluating start times. I want to thank all of the students, parents and staff who responded to the survey. Below is a summary of emergent themes from the data:

Elementary Parents:
For the most part, elementary parents felt their children learn the best in the morning. There was a majority who opposed flipping elementary and secondary times for two reasons: (1) increased cost of aftercare; and (2) getting their child(ren) ready for school before 7:30 was too early.

MS/HS Parents:
For the most part, parents felt that their children get adequate sleep. They also felt that their children learn best in late morning, and generally supported a later start time. There was not overwhelming support for HS students riding the same bus as MS students. There was some concern expressed regarding start time and its impact on athletes.

There were very mixed views from staff. Some staff felt a shift in start time would negatively impact their family obligations. Others viewed a shift to a later start time as positively impacting student outcomes. Most, regardless of the level, felt that their students seemed most engaged in their learning mid to late morning.

Contrary to parent reports, students (80%) felt they did not get enough sleep and in general supported a later start time. Almost all said that they learned the best in late morning. There was some concern among students that a later start time would impact after school activities.

This feedback helped to narrow down recommendations. The committee felt that there was not enough support among stakeholder groups to flip secondary and elementary times, therefore the option was eliminated.

On November 6th, the committee will be reconvening to discuss a final recommendation.

On November 12th, we will be hosting a Parent Information and Feedback Session
on the final option. The meeting will be at 6:00pm in the BHS Auditorium.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me at carverc@bethel.k12.ct.us.
Christine Carver, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools


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