School Committee Discusses Morning Start Times

Friday, April 29, 2016
By Transcript Staff

By Kate Anslinger

Several weeks ago, after much discussion, the school committee agreed to change the school start times for the 2017-2018 school year as follows:

Middle School:

 8:30am-2:55pm

High School:

7:55am-2:20pm

The newly designated times will be put into place to help curtail overlap between high school and middle school students entering and exiting the building. At this week’s school committee meeting, the topic was opened back up for discussion, as committee members delved into recent media topics regarding the importance of sleep for pubescent students.  Originally, Winthrop High School Principal Matt Crombie presented the fact that students were more likely to get extra help in the afternoons versus the early mornings before school, therefore he sided on having the students start school earlier.

“I think part of the issue was the concern that Principal Crombie felt that students would be able to get more academic support in the afternoon versus the morning,” said School Superintendent John Macero.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pubescent teenagers get 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night, however; by the time students finish homework, participate in school activities and succumb to television and technology, they typically aren’t asleep until 11:00pm, which doesn’t allow for the recommended amount if they are starting at 7:55am. However with middle school and high school students sharing a building, Winthrop has a unique situation and the committee has to consider the safety issues involved in start and end times.

“I think we are at a fair compromise with the 7:55am start time because by the time students travel to sports, they barely have time to stretch,” said committee member Valentino Capobianco, referring to students who travel as far as Gloucester for after school sporting events.

While the committee brought the discussion back to the table, they agreed to stick with the newly proposed times and monitor the effect it has on students’ health and safety going forward. “We are going to learn about the chemistry of two schools in the same building and we will get these issues ironed out,” said Macero, who has agreed that it would be a good idea to have a committee formed for the purpose of analyzing the start/end times as we move through the next year.

In other business:

School Committee Chair Dawn Sullivan is working with Project Bread to enhance breakfast options for students

Gilbain has removed the front stairs of the high school to ensure they have them done right. Their detailed work on the stairs should be completed by the end of the week

The new high school/middle school technology package is being reviewed with the School Building Committee. This includes a new phone system, touch screens in every classroom and computers

With the nicer weather approaching, please be vigilant about student’s crossing at busy intersections on their way to/from school

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