Weston School Committee Plans to Revisit Late Start Question Tonight

The School Committee delayed making a decision about a late start for Weston middle and high school students during the 2013-14 school year.

The Weston School Committee intended to reach some decisions about the 2013-14 school calendar and start times at its Nov. 19, but, well, the situation is complicated.

The committee did settle on the overall school calendar, but postponed making a decision about implementing delayed Wednesday starts for Weston middle and high school students while keeping the elementary start and dismissal times the same.

Superintendent Cheryl Maloney told Patch that School Committee members at the Nov. 19 meeting felt there were still too many questions regarding the feasibility and benefits of a late-start Wednesday and plan to take up the question again at the Dec. 3 meeting.

Maloney explained that the school committee is grappling with research that suggests middle and high school students get their most restful sleep in the morning hours, regardless of what time they go to bed.

"We've been trying to think of a way to get them that rest," Maloney said.

But shifting the school day later takes time off the end of the day for extracurricular activities and simply shortening the school day to compensate for the later start could put Weston schools at odds with state laws.

Bus routes are an additional issue as the same buses transport all of Weston's students, but at differing start and dismissal times.

The one day a week late start was proposed as an interim option while the committee considered implementing a more permanent situation, but even the one-day-a-week late start raised questions among parents.

In a survey of 69 parents, Maloney said, 34 were in favor of the Wednesday late start, 33 were against it and two simply responded that they had questions.

Given the complicated nature of the decision, the committee postponed taking a vote on the start time, but did establish the 2013-14 calendar. Weston students will head back to class on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, and will wrap up the year on June 20, 2014.

The Dec. 3 School Committee agenda indicates that members will return to the late start question at about 8:20 p.m., though times are approximate.


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