A majority of survey-takers said they would support changing start times at Milton Town School District, superintendent Amy Rex said at the Nov. 12 school board meeting.
The survey was a preliminary measure to determine if changing start times would be feasible for the district. Following the receptive response, Rex said MTSD will conduct an impact study to determine what the change would mean for athletics, transportation, families and community stakeholders.
But it is unlikely schedule changes would be made for the 2019-20 school year, Rex said. The survey was purely informational and doesn’t commit the district to any action, trustee Emily Hecker said.
The survey opened about two months ago, and its deadline was extended from October 31 to November 15. It consisted of only a few questions, primarily if respondents favored changing the middle and high school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and altering the elementary start from 8:25 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. It also collected questions and concerns with either proposal.
Results show almost 75 percent of the 758 respondents were amenable to changing the MHS start time, and 62 percent of respondents would approve of altering the MES start time.
According to Rex, the greatest participation came from families who indicated an association with the elementary school.
“It seems like people are really enthusiastic about it,” Hecker said. “I certainly am.”
The district’s interest in this change stemmed from research on the benefits of later school day starts for teenagers, Hecker said. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an 8:30 a.m. or later school start helps align academics to adolescents’ biological sleep rhythms.
Additionally, keeping kids in school later helps reduce the risk of destructive behaviors, Hecker said: “The later that kids can be in school and be in activities after school, the—probably—healthier [they] will be.”
MTSD will create a diverse committee consisting of board members, students, parents, district officials and others to contribute to the impact study, Rex said. The committee will conduct research and analysis, culminating in a proposal to the district. She hopes the work will begin in January. The district will also collate over 700 questions and comments from survey respondents.
“We’re looking at … a long timeline,” Hecker said, adding the committee will inform its decision making with concerns taken into account.
“If athletics or afterschool activities would be impacted negatively then, obviously, that would be something that would have to be considered before any change would happen,” she said.
However, she said if MTSD determines the change is positive for students, she’s personally in favor of making the switch.
“[It’s] a positive step for Milton,” Hecker said. “I think it’s a … good idea.”