After releasing new start and end times for 105 of the 125 schools in the system for next school year, Boston Public Schools (BPS) is putting the brakes on the new policy after blowback from parents and the community.
“Over the past few weeks, we have heard from families, staff, and stakeholders that there are concerns with the implementation of the new start and end times policy,” Superintendent Tommy Chang wrote in a letter posted on BPS website on Dec. 22. “After reflecting on this feedback, we understand that while the new schedule would achieve our goal of supporting academic success for all ages, the shifts to many school start times caused a more significant disruption to family schedules than we intended. That is why I have decided not to implement the new start and end times that we have proposed for the 2018-2019 school year.”
The letter goes on to say that BPS is committed on improving its engagement effort “with all of our families and community members to solve the problems necessary to build a more coherent school system. This includes developing a new schedule of start and end times for future school years that is grounded in equity and better meets the needs of our students and families. We must share a collaborative spirit, and work together to find solutions to repair the institutional inequities that persist.”
The School Committee had voted to approve the policy on Dec. 6. The policy would have changed some schools start times by more than two hours. BPS parents had criticized BPS and the Walsh administration for the rollout of the policy, citing an underwhelming community outreach and anger over the new times. Jamaica Plain Councilor Matt O’Malley had also come out against the proposal.
O’Malley responded to the BPS announcement in a statement to the Gazette, “I’ve been advocating for a later start time for high school students for several years now. However, I do not think that should come at the cost of an untenable schedule for elementary students. I’m glad that the school department has hit the pause button on their proposal and look forward to working with them to come up with a revised schedule that works better for families, schools, and the system as a whole.”
Start Smart BPS, a group that had protested against the new start time policy, said in a statement to the Gazette, “We are very pleased that BPS and Mayor Walsh listened to our concerns. The botched roll out has invigorated hundreds and hundreds of concerned BPS community members and we are now focusing this momentum and energy towards the larger goal—the BPS budget and securing full funding for every school in Boston.
“We look forward to BPS continuing to work on making proper adjustments to start times where appropriate and desired.”