North Salem Central School District to move school start times back by 30 minutes
The North Salem Central School District plans to move its school start times back by 30 minutes beginning with the 2024-2025 school year. The move was recommended by the district’s School Start Time committee, in a presentation given Monday at the Board of Education’s annual reorganization meeting.
A 16-member School Start Time committee formed during the 2021-2022 school year included Board of Ed members, parents, teachers, administrators and a consultant. The committee was responsible for reviewing existing literature and best practices regarding school start times and for proposing the implementation of a recommendation based on those findings. The committee developed five proposals, and settled on recommending starting both schools 30-minutes as the option that best met the committee’s criteria to balance benefits and disruptions.
The recommendation to start school half an hour later would keep the current order of start times, with middle/high school students first, followed by elementary students. The school day for middle and high school students would run from 7:58 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. Elementary school students would attend school from 8:55 a.m. - 3:35 p.m.
Before arriving at their recommendation, the committee conducted surveys of parents, students, faculty and staff, including clerical staff, custodians and bus drivers. Among parents, 43% of survey respondents indicated that they would like more information about the proposed shift. Just 23% of middle/high school students took the survey. Among them, 52% said it was difficult or very difficult to wake up for the current school start time of 7:28 a.m. The majority of custodians/bus drivers and clerical staff said a shift in start times would have no impact in their ability to support students.
Beth Malvino, a parent who was a member of the School Start Committee during the 2021-2022 school year, expressed optimism about the district’s plans. “I saw a clear commitment to address not only the health benefits of shifting to a later start time, but also potential solutions for the concerns of families at both PQ and the MSHS,” Malvino said. “It speaks to how much thought is going into this process and I’m excited to see our district moving in the right direction.”
Last year, California enacted legislation mandating that high school students start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and several other states have similar bills under consideration in their state legislatures.
This article has been updated from a previous version.