NPS District News SPECIAL EDITION

April 7, 2021

Message from the Superintendent

Dear NPS Families,


As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, over the past several years, NPS explored the adjustment of high school start times to support more developmentally appropriate start times for adolescents. As part of that exploration, an internal team developed a new high school schedule that would facilitate this change and allow for more flexible and creative instructional practices.


Because of the pandemic, we had the unique opportunity to adjust both the start time and the schedule at our high schools. While there are some obvious drawbacks to a later school end time, the consensus from our Fall Planning Team is that there are significant benefits to our students from both an academic, emotional and physical health perspective.


Specific proposals for start and end times that impact the whole district will be shared at the School Committee on April 12th. Below you will find additional background information, as well as the timeline for decision-making.


Please share any feedback with the Newton School Committee at: schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us


Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Proposed Start/End Times for the 2021-22 School Year

On Tuesday, April 6, the Fall Planning Group, composed of parent representatives from a range of organizations, NTA leaders and teacher representatives, building and district administrators, and School Committee members, met and formally put forward a recommendation for the district to adopt new start and end times for the 2021-22 school year.


For grades K-8, the proposal moves start and end times 10 minutes and moves early release days to Wednesdays. Specific times for all levels are as follows:


Elementary Schools:

8:10 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 12:20 p.m.)


Middle Schools:

Bigelow: 8:05 a.m. - 2:35 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 1:50 p.m.)

Brown: 8:20 a.m. - 2:50 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 2:05 p.m.)

Day: 7:55 a.m. - 2:25 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 1:40 p.m.)

Oak Hill: 7:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. (early release Wednesdays at 1:35 p.m.)


High Schools

9:00 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. (early release Tuesdays at 3:25 p.m.)


The School Committee will review this proposal and recommendation at its Monday, April 12, 2021 meeting. You can find meeting minutes, materials, and group membership for the Fall Planning Group here.

Later Start Time Exploration: 2015 - 2017

Based upon the significant body of research on adolescent sleep cycles and the importance of adequate sleep at appropriate times, the Newton Public Schools formed the High School Start Time Working Group in 2015 to explore a possible shift in high school start times. Over the next two years, the district took the following steps to research and gather feedback:


  • Reviewed medical research on adolescent sleep cycles

  • Conducted surveys of student, staff, and families

  • Held community meetings and participated in PTO meetings

  • Reached out to community organizations to school partners


Throughout the process, the School Committee and the community were provided with regular updates, recommendations, and possible paths forward. The final recommendation in 2017 suggested that in order to facilitate a later start time, the district should revise the high school schedule.


All research, survey results, presentations, and documentation from community meetings can be found on this webpage: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/2553

High School Schedule Redesign: 2017 - 2019

Following the recommendation of the High School Start Time Working Group in 2017, the district formed the High School Schedule Redesign Committee. This committee, comprised of administrators, faculty, and staff, worked over two years to design a new high school schedule that would not only facilitate a later high school start time, but also provide a stronger learning model for students. To create a new schedule, the committee:


  • Conducted faculty discussions, surveys, meetings, and straw polls

  • Held student focus groups

  • Gathered feedback from surveys to families and students

  • Met with key groups, including SEPAC

  • Researched schedules in other districts to identify best practices


In spring 2019, the committee presented their recommendation to the School Committee. All information from the schedule redesign process can be found on this webpage: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/2553

Upcoming Informational Webinar - Tuesday, April 13

To learn more about the proposal under consideration and the impact of the changes piloted this school year, please join us at a webinar next week. Event information is as follows:


When: Tuesday, April 13th at 6:30 p.m.

Visit this page for login information: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/3825

Timeline for Decision-Making

April 12th - Presentation at School Committee Meeting

April 13th - Informational webinar for families

April 28th - Recommendation voted at School Committee Meeting


Ongoing - The district will be working with NTA leadership, following agreed upon collective bargaining processes, to better understand how to address the challenges associated with continuing the later start time into next year and implementing the new high school schedule.