Implement a Medically Recommended School Start Time in Barrington
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We call upon the members of the School Committee and School District leaders to follow our community’s student-centric and evidence-based ethos and simply finish what you have long ago pledged to do: change BHS and BMS school start times to the CDC and AAP recommended minimum of 8:30am. It has been too long. Barrington can -- and should -- do better in the face of the overwhelming science, clear paths to resolving the remaining challenges, and wealth of other leading school districts across the country who can already show us the path forward.
We call on you to show...
OWNERSHIP: As recent coverage in the Barrington Times amply proves the community is at a loss to know where you stand as individual leaders and as a collective on Medically Recommended School Start Time Change. Leaders need to lead! As the ad hoc implementation committee found in its discussion with the Y last year (and Mike Messore can attest), perceived challenges melted away as soon as stakeholders were convinced there was movement, decision, and a reason to work with us on solutions. Impossible swim times were revealed merely as placeholders, and promises of “being out of the pool and drying their hair by 7” came instead.
You were elected to make a difference, many of you pledged to make a difference on this very issue. Please stop thanking us for our conviction on this issue and publicly and unambiguously state your own. You were powerful when you took ownership and led on this and other issues in the past - but without you the community will remain mired in inertia and the needless pain of having made a tough decision without any of the benefits of actually doing it.
ACCOUNTABILITY: We are deeply alarmed by the Superintendent’s recommendation of yet a third year’s delay, despite the fact that the initiative was mature enough to be included in the initial budget last year. Similarly, the talk of embedding Medically Recommended School Start Time in the new strategic plan provides no guidance as to when you plan to achieve Medically Recommended School Start Times , where you stand on the issue now, or why These start times simply cannot be implemented as a now 2-year overdue action item from the last strategic plan. While we welcome the School Committee’s decision to nudge the District to finally do a comprehensive transportation study, this should have been done (as promised) from last year to now - and still need not stand in the way of Medically Recommended School Start Times inclusion this year.
You currently have even more time to prepare for implementation in the Academic Year (AY) 2018-2019 than you did when you finally removed it from the budget for AY 2017-2018 - and you can draw on the successes of the ad hoc implementation committee and the best practices role-modeled by others like East Greenwich.
Please hold yourselves and the District accountable as leaders in the same way any high-performing organization would - clearly define the remaining obstacles as you see them, identify who is responsible for addressing them, and establish a timeline for results and reports out on the way.
URGENCY: In January of 2016, Kate Brody told the press “For us, for me as a school committee member, when I look at the research, it would be negligent of me to ignore that data.” We agreed then, and we agree now. The two years of delay in the meantime have been painful, but perhaps justifiable if they were the cost of getting the new Middle School and of buying the District the time to cut down fears and chart solutions with the ad hoc implementation committee. But now a third year is proposed simply because of the distraction of a new strategic plan (when later start times is part of the old one) and even more ambiguous delay (a fourth, a fifth year?) is hinted at in the notions of finding “sustainability” (a metric yet to be defined) and “developing processes.”
The last two years were bought at the expense of a healthier learning environment for our children - and in this sense this time was “expensive” even if the cost necessary. It must be understood that any further delay would also be expensive - and that we are asking the kids to keep paying the cost of our adult procrastination. Please treat the issue with the urgency you once felt and that the science demands. Please include Medically Recommended School Start Time change in this year’s budget!
Barrington can do better than a third year of delay and an ambiguous future for an initiative that helps more kids, has a higher return on investment, and has more evidence to support it than anything else the District is considering. Keep our kids first, and place them above all the inertia, the lure of procrastination, the negativity and the dirt.
Please lead. Please act. Please finish the job.
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