Announcement: Changing School Start Times

posted Oct 24, 2017, 11:37 AM by Deanne Galdston

 Good afternoon, WPS Community:


The mission of the Watertown Public Schools is to provide all of our students with the best possible learning opportunities and outcomes.  One way to promote learning and improve outcomes for students is to ensure that school-age children get enough sleep before coming to school.  For many adolescents, getting sufficient sleep is challenging for a variety of reasons including homework, extracurricular activities, technology, and generally busy lives.  But it is not just the activities keeping teenagers awake late.  Their natural sleep cycles are different than those of younger children and adults, often making going to bed early a tremendous challenge.  In order to maximize learning for students and to promote health and wellness for our teenagers, WPS will be implementing new start times for our students next year.  A later start time for our middle and high school students is the one variable that we are able to control.  As such, we have taken the step to provide the opportunity for our students to obtain optimal sleeping time. 

At last night’s School Committee meeting, the Committee approved the District’s proposal to move school times beginning in September of 2018.  When school opens next year, Watertown Middle School and Watertown High School will begin at 8:30 AM.  Student dismissal will be at 3:00 PM for Watertown Middle School and at 3:05 PM for Watertown High School.  All elementary schools will open at 8:15 AM and will dismiss students at 2:30 PM.  The following table illustrates the changes to start and dismissal times beginning next September.

 

 

Start Time,
Now through June 2018

Dismissal Time, 
Now through June 2018

Start Time,
September 2018 Onward

Dismissal Time,
September 2018 Onward

Cunniff Elementary School

8:15 AM

2:30 PM

8:15 AM

2:30 PM

Hosmer Elementary School

8:30 AM

2:45 PM

8:15 AM

2:30 PM

J. R. Lowell Elementary School

8:15 AM

2:30 PM

8:15 AM

2:30 PM

Watertown Middle School

7:40 AM

2:05 PM

8:30 AM

3:00 PM

Watertown High School

7:55 AM

2:30 PM

8:30 AM

3:05 PM

 

Now that the decision to change school start and dismissal times has been made, the District will address programs and activities that may be impacted by the change in start times including before-school and extended day programs, after-school programs, breakfast, interscholastic athletics, instrumental music, and chorus.   These changes will require the District to strategically schedule itinerant teachers, plan for reallocating before- and after-school staff when possible, and provide opportunities for secondary students to have adequate supervision and activities both before and after school.  As for interscholastic activities, the Middlesex League as a whole has committed to exploring options in each of the communities to start their middle and high schools later, which should provide for more efficient scheduling of students’ extracurricular activities and athletics teams throughout the year.  With elementary school starting at 8:15 AM, the District will move to a one-tier busing system, which necessitates adding more buses to the routes. 

I understand that this change will impact the schedules for both our families and staff members.  We hope that this early announcement of next year’s changes to start and dismissal times will allow adequate time for all to plan for the changes ahead. 

Please accept my sincerest gratitude to the community members and staff members who contributed their time, knowledge, ideas, and feedback throughout the planning process for this important initiative.  I thank you for all you have done to support our students’ health and well-being.

Looking forward to the changes ahead,

Dede Galdston, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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