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.
In the fall of 2018, Guilderland Central School District established a committee of district stakeholders to look at whether the district should adjust school start times to meet the needs of Guilderland students.
Currently, the school day at Guilderland High School runs from 7:30 a.m to 2:25 p.m. Farnsworth Middle School runs from 8:45 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.; and the school day at the district’s five elementary schools is from 7:50 a.m. to 2:05 p.m.
Guilderland’s School Start Time Task Force has been meeting since October of 2018. Five working sub-groups of the task force have been gathering research on the topic, collecting and analyzing data about our students (attendance, achievement, sleep patterns, extra-curricular activities), considering policy implications, planning for community outreach, and drafting options for possible changes in school start times. The district also contracted with a consultant to analyze the district’s bus transportation system, one of the most significant hurdles to altering school start times.
On Oct. 29, 2019, the Committee resumed its work by reviewing several alternative bell schedules, presented by a transportation consultant, that could allow for a later start time at the high school without dramatically increasing the need for additional resources. The alternative bell schedules were included in a report prepared for the district by School Bus Consultants (SBC), a private firm with expertise in design, management and operations of school transportation programs.
Transportation is one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle when we think about a later start time for the high school. The entire system is affected, so we need to be thorough in our review of the system as we consider different options and what those options will mean for the entire district.
Dr. Wiles said SBC spent several weeks during the fall reviewing the district’s bus transportation system, which transports approximately 5,000 Guilderland students to our local schools, private and parochial schools and various out of district special education placements.
The SBC used quantitative data analysis that included routing and ridership to test different bell time scenarios that could allow the high school to start later than its current 7:30 a.m.
At the Oct. 29 meeting, committee members asked that the consultants provide additional data on three of five transportation reconfigurations included in the report.
View a copy of the full Bell Time Study and Transportation Impact Analysis report.
The committee will meet again in early December to review the revised report and continuing making plans to engage the broader community in a discussion about changing start times.
Any decisions made as part of the School Start Time Committee’s work would not impact school schedules before the 2021-22 school year at the earliest.
Visit the School Start Times website for more information.
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