Rhinebeck Central School District : School Start Time Committee Report to the Board of Education

At the Regular Board of Education meeting on December 8, 2015, the Board’s ad hoc School Start Time Committee outlined information they had gathered for the benefit of the full Board and the approximately 30 members of the public in attendance.

School Board member Deirdre d’Albertis reviewed the context and the research base for the Board of Education’s interest in studying the possibilities, the benefits, and the disadvantages of five possible options under review and consideration at this point in time.

Superintendent Joseph Phelan then reviewed each of those options in detail. Ms. d’Albertis’ followed the outline of options with a synopsis of the results of surveys conducted with parents (51.5% response rate), with BMS/RHS teachers (56% response rate), with CLS teachers (68% response rate), and with students in grades 6 -12 (73% response rate).

The full text of the Powerpoint presentation used during the December 8, 2015 presentation can be accessed by clicking the following link: SST Presentation 12-8-15. A review of the research base supporting later school start times for adolescents can be accessed by clicking the following link: SST Research

At the conclusion of the presentation, seven (7) of those members of the community in attendance, shared their comments with the members of the Board of Education and the audience.

During the 2014-15 school year, an ad hoc Committee of the Board of Education was formed to look into the possibilities of changing the school start time in Rhinebeck and what effects, both positive and negative, would be inherent in such a change.  The Board’s School Start Time Committee – Deirdre d’Albertis, Diane Lyons, and Laura Schulkind, assisted by Superintendent Joseph Phelan, Assistant Superintendent Thomas Burnell, and others – was charged with reviewing, researching, discussing, and making a recommendation to the full Board. The Committee was instructed by the Board to keep any recommendation cost neutral.

The Committee continues to examine the details of various options, as well as to collect and review stakeholder feedback.  To date, no recommendation has been reached by the School Start Time Committee, much less made to and/or decided upon by the full Board of Education. An affirmative recommendation, if approved by a majority of the full Board of Education could be implemented, possibly on a pilot basis, as early as the 2016-17 school year.

The impetus for considering such a change at this time was a recent series of recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control. Although educators have realized for some time that teenagers require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night, the national conversation about school start time has become more insistent, particular, and conclusive in the past several years.

To that point, in August 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following recommendations made the year before by the American Academy of Pediatrics, declared insufficient sleep among adolescents to be a public health concern best addressed by adopting later school start times.

The Committee’s report identified five options regarding a potential change in school start time. In no particular order of preference, these options are:

  • Single Trip Option: All K-12 students would begin school close to the same time. This would mean all children K-12 would ride the buses together. BMS/RHS students would be dropped off first, with CLS students being dropped off approximately 10 minutes later. This option would require additional buses and bus monitors, at an initial cost increase of $613,000-$1,107,000 per year.
  • Flip Option: CLS would begin school first, at 7:30 am, and dismissing at approximately 1:50 pm, with buses departing by 2:05 pm. BMS/RHS would begin at 8:55 am and dismissing at approximately 3:41pm, with buses departing at 3:51 pm. This option would require an additional four (4) after-school bus runs, at an initial cost of $21,000-$29,000 per year.
  • Shift Option: BMS/RHS would shift 30 minutes, beginning at 8:00 am and dismissing at approximately 2:46 pm, with buses departing at 2:56 pm. CLS would shift by approximately 7 minutes, beginning at approximately 9:02 am, and dismissing at approximately 3:22 pm, with buses departing by 3:37 pm. This option would be cost neutral
  • Hybrid Flip/Shift Option: CLS would begin school first, at 7:00 am, dismissing at approximately 1:20 pm with buses departing at approximately 1:35 pm; BMS/RHS would begin at 8:15 am, dismissing at approximately 2:53 pm, with buses departing around 3:00 pm. This option would require an additional four (4) after-school bus runs, at an initial cost of $21,000-$29,000 per year.
  • Status Quo Option: Nothing would be changed. BMS/RHS would continue to begin at 7:30 am and CLS at 8:55 am and would dismiss at the same times in the afternoon as done currently. This option would be cost neutral.

After gathering initial information, the Committee determined that 2015-16 would be spent educating and collecting additional feedback from various stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, and non-instructional staff. The Committee is committed to considering the impact any change would have on all members of our community. The Committee has held a number of meetings with Administrators, the Athletic Director and a transportation consultant to gather information and opinions on each of the options. Parents students, teachers, and non-instructional staff were provided with the opportunity to participate in a survey of their opinions on the topic. A presentation was made at each faculty meeting, and a series of meetings were held after school to provide interested school staff with an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback in person. Several coffee hours with the Board of Education were held to solicit input on the topic from parents and students.

Questions or comments may be directed to the BOE School Start Time Committee and to the full Board of Education through the Superintendent of Schools atjphelan@rhinebeckcsd.org.