School Start Times Study
The School Committee is currently considering the implications of Andover school schedules on adolescents’ mental health and well-being, and potential impacts of changing school start times within the district. This webpage will serve as a place for resources and information for parents, faculty and staff. We encourage you to visit often. As the conversation continues, we will share updates here.
School Start Times Update- February 2020
School Committee Chair Joel Blumstein and Dr. Sheldon Berman, superintendent of Andover Public Schools provided an update on the school start time initiative in February 2020. No changes in school start times will be implemented during the 2020/2021 school year. However, work on this effort will move forward without delay so that the School Committee can decide as soon as is realistically possible whether to change school start times and, if so, how and when to implement those changes. Read the full communication here.
Since the beginning of January 2020, the School Start Time Working Group has been analyzing a number of factors affecting potential options, including double bus runs, private school bell times, time between public school busing tiers, and the need for additional buses. This process narrowed the group’s focus from approximately twelve start time sample scenarios to five. These five scenarios include the status quo which, although it does not meet all the School Committee’s criteria, remains under consideration. A summary of the five options are listed in the chart below or can be found here.
APS has convened a School Start Times Parent Advisory Group to provide feedback for additional consideration to the School Start Times Working Group. The School Start Times Working Group thanks the community delegates for their contribution.
|Andrew Adams||Kathy Luz Cote|
|Lynn Andelman||Dave Crow|
|John Barry||Kathleen Fergus|
|Nancy Buckley||Matthew Nigrelli|
|Charlene Clark||Patricia Rich|
|Vikas Choudhary||Kate Squillacioti|
Edulog Transportation Optimization Study for APS
APS engaged Edulog during the fall of 2019 to conduct an optimization study on their transportation data. The purpose of this routing analysis was to objectively evaluate existing bus routes and various tasks for timely, efficient, and cost effective transport of all students to and from their residence. A draft of that report can be found here and Edulog presented their information at the November 21, 2019 School Committee meeting. A summary of the report’s findings can be found here.
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In June 2019, the School Start Time Working Group sent surveys inviting community feedback on the impact of school start times.
Results are available at the links below.
Previous Community Forums & Workshops:
In the fall of 2019, the School Committee held various forums and opportunities to hear from the community:
- A school committee meeting was held on November 21 at 7:00 pm in the School Committee conference room on the 2nd floor of the School Administration Building (36 Bartlet St.).
- A public forum exclusively dedicated to start times was held on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:00 pm in the Library/Media Center at Andover High School.
- All School Committee meetings during October and November included start times as an agenda item. The meetings were held on October 10 Opens in New Window , October 24 Opens in New Window , and November 5 Opens in New Window .
- School Committee informal forums were held each month during the 2019-20 School Year at Memorial Hall Library. At these forums, two committee members were available for discussion of any matter within the Committee’s authority, including start times.
- Read Opens in New Window the September 26, 2019 update from Joel Blumstein, School Committee Chairman.Opens a New Window.
- Andover TV Broadcast of School Committee Workshop- September 18, 2019 Opens a New Window.
- May 22, 2019 at 7 p.m.- at Doherty Middle School Opens a New Window.
- June 11, 2019 at 7 p.m.- West Middle School
|March - April 2019||Parent Coffees|
|May - June 2019||Public Forums|
|June 2019||Surveys for student, faculty and staff, and parents|
|September 2019||Survey results shared at School Committee meeting|
|September - October 2019||Public Forums and Outreach|
|November 2019||Review of Edulog Transportation Study at November 21st School Committee meeting|
|January 2020||Assignment of SST PAC Delegates|
|February 2020||Communication from Joel Blumstein and Dr. Berman|
Over the past several years, Andover Public Schools, under the leadership of Dr. Berman, has built a formal strategic plan called the “Theory of Action.”
The “Theory of Action” has a number of elements including a commitment that Andover students study a rigorous curriculum that drives academic growth. It also calls for consideration of students’ social, physical and emotional growth – in addition to academics.
Organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control all recommend school not start before 8:30 AM for middle and high school students.
These organizations’ research concludes that sleep impacts brain function, which helps us perform better whether we’re taking a test, driving a car, or regulating our emotions. Well-rested students perform better academically, make better judgments, and have less physical and mental health problems.
In Andover, our current start times are:
- High School – 7:44 AM
- Middle Schools- 7:45 AM
- Elementary Schools- 8:45 AM
- Shawsheen- 9 AM
The School Committee has asked district leadership to evaluate the impact of making a change to school start times that would allow middle & high school students more sleep. A small working group has been assembled to come up with logistical options, with the goal of making an overall positive impact on student well-being.
We understand and appreciate that scheduling changes are hard, and a decision to move start times would impact the lives of every Andover school family and staff member. Of course, there will be pros and cons to every schedule, and we will look forward to gaining feedback from the community once options are developed.
To begin our public outreach, in November 2018 we held a community discussion around this issue, joined by Dr. Judith Owens, director of Sleep Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Her presentation can be found here.
Additional Resources and Reading:
- Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations Opens a New Window.
- Start School Later website Opens a New Window.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Schools Start Too Early Opens a New Window.
- TED Talk with Wendy Troxel: Why School Should Start Later for Teens Opens a New Window.
Your feedback is important. Please email: email@example.com