Investigating School Start Times at GCSD

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion in local and national news about the circadian rhythms of adolescents and the amount of sleep they need to be healthy, safe and fully engaged in their learning.  These discussions have suggested that the early arrival times at many high schools may contribute to students getting insufficient sleep to feel and perform at their best.

After encountering this research and reflecting on GCSD’s overall mission “to inspire all students to be active life-long learners, able to achieve their highest potential in a demanding and ever-changing global community,” district leadership discussed exploring the issue

In October 2018, the Guilderland Central School District Board of Education sought out volunteers to serve on a task force to investigate school start times.  The purpose of the task force is to investigate and review the research regarding school start times, share findings with the School Board and community, and make recommendations for potential action.

The task force, which includes students, parents, district faculty and staff, and community members, first met in mid-October and will continue to meet until the committee is ready to make a recommendation to the Board.


PURPOSE

The purpose of the task force is to investigate and review the research regarding school start times and to share findings and make recommendations to the Superintendent and Board of Education for their consideration and potential action. In order to fulfill its purpose, the Task Force will consider the following questions:

  1. What does research, including academic research, policy papers, case studies, etc. say about the impact of school start times on adolescent students?
  2. What data exist to describe the current conditions for Guilderland High School Students including attendance, tardiness, course and Regents grades, student performance on SATs and ACTs, and hours of sleep each night?
  3. What roadblocks might exist to altering the current schedule of start times in the Guilderland Central School District?  Topics to consider will include:
    1. Transportation
    2. Athletics
    3. Extra-curricular activities
    4. Other
  4. To what extent would various stakeholders support a change to school start times in Guilderland?
  5. Other?

OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES

  1. Membership on the task force was open to all Guilderland Central School District residents through an application process. All applicants were appointed by the Board of Education at the October 2, 2018, regular meeting. The members of the committee represent:
    1. Parents of Guilderland Central School District Students;
    2. Students of the Guilderland Central School District;
    3. Guilderland Community Members;
    4. Employees (support staff, related service providers, administrators); and
    5. Members of the Board of Education
  2. The Task Force will create working sub-groups to consider aspects of the issue which will be co-facilitated by a district administrator and a member of the group (selected by the group).
  3. The organizational meeting of the task force will take place October 18, 2018.
  4. Subsequent meetings of the task force and its sub-groups (including their frequency, date, time, and location) will be determined to the extent possible by the members.
  5. Any sub-groups will provide agendas and minutes of meetings to the Superintendent of Schools.
  6. The task force and sub-groups will provide periodic reports to the Superintendent of Schools and Board of Education on February 11, 2019, with a recommendation for next steps. 

ACTIVITIES

Activities of the School Start Times Task Force should include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Review relevant academic research, policy papers, case studies, etc. regarding the impact of school start times on adolescent students.
  2. Gather data about the current conditions for Guilderland students regarding sleep habits, attendance and tardy data, student achievement data including course grades, Regents exam grades, results on SATs and ACTs, discipline referrals, or other indicators as identified.
  3. Develop a plan to share information gathered during the research phase with the Guilderland School Community.
  4. Identify potential roadblocks to making any changes to start times in Guilderland including transportation, athletic schedules, extra-curricular activities, etc.
  5. Identify possible solutions to identified roadblocks including the financial implications of each potential solution.
  6. Coordinate with neighboring school districts who are also exploring potential changes in start time for their schools
  7. Develop and implement a plan to gather feedback from the community (students, parents, etc.) regarding any potential changes to the start of school times in the district and the implications of those changes.
  8. Prepare a report and PowerPoint presentation to share with the Board of Education that includes specific recommendations for start times in the Guilderland School District
  9. Seek assistance from the district office team and other district professional resources for information, advice on outreach to the community, etc.

TASK FORCE PARTICIPANT SELECTION

The Board of Education sought volunteers to participate on the Task Force.  Information about the task force and how to submit letters of interest was posted on the website and on district social media platforms.

Announcements were also made at Board of Education meetings and through School News Notifier.  Letters of invitation were also sent to students, faculty and staff, parents, and community members. The district also sent out a press release and submitted a letter to editor of the Altamont Enterprise regarding this opportunity.  Interested parties should have sent a letter of interest or an email to the Superintendent of Schools by September 28, 2018.

All individuals who submitted a letter of interest prior to the deadline are included in the Task Force. The Board of Education appointed these members to the Task Force on October 2, 2018.


GENERAL TIMELINE

OCTOBER 2018: Organizational Meeting of the Task Force

DECEMBER 18, 2018: Task Force will provide an overview of its research findings to the BOE.  The presentation will include recommendations for next steps.

FEBRUARY 11, 2019: Task Force will present a status report to BOE with recommendations for next steps.

MARCH 2019 – October 2019: Task Force sub-groups continue work based on their defined next steps.

NOVEMBER 2019: Approximate date by which the board would need to decide to pursue a change in start times for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

 

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