Superintendent’s Recommendation Regarding Start Times

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 6.36.38 PM

October 30, 2017

Dear Wayland Families, Staff and Students:

The Wayland Public Schools has examined the impact of its relatively early high school start time on student health periodically since 2002. While the Wayland community has largely agreed that delaying high school start times would improve the health of our adolescents, it has encountered a variety of challenges in making the change. At this time, as Superintendent, I am recommending to the Wayland School Committee that we adopt a phased approach in order to both address the challenges that those years of work have surfaced and achieve delayed start times for high school and middle school students.

During phase one, beginning at the start of the 2018-2019 school year, I recommend that we delay the start of school twenty minutes at high school and middle school and fifteen minutes at elementary school. During phase two, which will begin at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, I recommend that we delay high school and middle school start times an additional ten minutes without delaying further the elementary start times or end times. I am recommending that these changes take place over two years because we need to optimize our bus routes using real data from the first year’s implementation. I am confident that we will develop the efficiencies necessary in our bus routes in phase one to make phase two a reality.

Here are the recommended changes in table form:

Current Schedule: School Start Times in 2017-2018

Students School Starts School Ends
Elementary School 8:45 a.m. 3:15 p.m.
Middle School 7:35 a.m. 2:20 p.m.
High School 7:30 a.m. 2:15 p.m.

Phase 1: Recommended School Start Times in 2018-2019

Students School Starts School Ends
Elementary School 9:00 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
Middle School 7:55 a.m. 2:40 p.m.
High School 7:50 a.m. 2:35 p.m.

 

Phase 2: Recommended School Start Times in 2019-2020

Students School Starts School Ends
Elementary School 9:00 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
Middle School 8:05  a.m. 2:50 p.m.
High School 8:00 a.m. 2:45 p.m.

 

The Basis for the Recommendation

A tremendous amount of data overwhelmingly supports the need for schools to delay their start time in order to enable adolescents to get more sleep. While delaying start times a total of thirty minutes by 2019-2020 is not enough to enable the majority of our adolescents to get nine hours of sleep, the later start time will make a tangible difference. At the same time, while moving elementary start times fifteen minutes later is not ideal, a 9:00 a.m. start would align Wayland elementary schools with about one-third of the elementary schools in our region. In addition, the great majority of research does not suggest that delaying elementary school start and end times would impact our elementary students’ learning.

In order to make this phased delay work effectively, I am requesting the allocation of an additional $45,000 annually to address transportation inefficiencies that will impact elementary school students, particularly our Boston-resident students. This $45,000 will enable us to allocate an extra afternoon bus route and an afternoon bus monitor for our Boston elementary students, reducing their bus ride home by thirty to forty-five minutes each day.

Ultimately, I hope that in the next few years Dual County League schools will agree to begin interscholastic games later, so that Wayland could delay the start of its high school day closer to 8:30 a.m. and move elementary start times earlier in the day. Currently, many superintendents are apprehensive to change start times largely because of possible transportation delays. However, I am hopeful that their reticence will recede and interest will increase as more school districts successfully delay start times over the next few years.

I have asked that the School Committee discuss this recommendation publicly and make a decision about how to proceed by January of 2018. By voting in January, School Committee will give families sufficient time to prepare for the proposed change and will enable the District to ensure that our FY 19 budget reflects the School Committee’s decision.

I look forward to continuing this important conversation. If you have any comments regarding school start times, please email schoolstarttime@wayland.k12.ma.us. For research on adolescent sleep needs, survey data, a response to “Frequently Asked Questions” related to school start times, and the report that I presented to School Committee on Monday, October 30 please go to the Wayland Public Schools website here. In addition, I have posted the report on my blog.

Thank you very much.
Sincerely,

AU1_Sign

Arthur Unobskey, Wayland Public Schools Superintendent

 

Superintendent Unobskey’s Entry Plan

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 6.36.38 PM.png

Purpose of the Entry Plan

The purpose of this Entry Plan is to provide me with a structure for completing a careful study of the Wayland Public Schools. I will use these findings to gain the knowledge and trust I need to partner effectively with staff and the community as we build a shared vision for the Wayland Public Schools.

The Wayland Public Schools has the deep respect of its town. Its schools are viewed as both nurturing and high-performing. It has benefitted from skilled and steady leadership. That rock-solid platform supports a staff that is confident about its past and present and energized about the future. This research should help to galvanize the staff around a small number of priorities that will enable us to make an excellent district even better.

 
Deepening Our Core Values

The Wayland Public Schools Core Values are:

  1. teaching all students effectively
  2. creating strong collegial networks among staff
  3. respecting differences
  4. building a nurturing community

The research that I conduct will identify action steps the district should take to deepen its implementation of these four values. In order to identify those action steps, my research will focus on answering the following questions:

  1. How do we ensure that all students have a rigorous and nurturing academic experience?
  2. How should we refine our collaborative structures so that we position teachers most effectively to learn what works for students and to apply that learning to their daily teaching?
  3. How can we refine our communication with parents and the community so that we build consensus in the identification and implementation of our priorities?

The Time-Line for the Entry Plan
Part 1.Data Gathering: August 2017-January 2018

I will review documents, conduct interviews and administer surveys.

Document Review: I will review DESE documents (MCAS, EPIMS, Graduation Data, Attendance data, Social-Emotional Data, teacher evaluation data, etc), district and school improvement plans, enrollment projections, collective bargaining agreements, facility master plans, past budgets, budget forecasts, special education reports, School Committee agendas and supporting documents, and school handbooks.

Interviews: I will interview members of all stakeholder groups. These interviews will include meetings with students at all three school levels, School Committee members, the Town Administrator, town selectmen, members of the town Financial Committee, the police chief, fire chief, state representatives, Wayland Teachers’ Association leadership, school administrators, central office administrators, teachers, teaching assistants, facilities staff, parents, BASE staff, Council on Aging staff, and residents without children in the school system.

Focus Groups: I will also have focus group meetings that will include:

  • Students at the elementary school level, at the middle school, and at the high school
  • Elementary teachers
  • Middle school teachers
  • High school teachers
  • Teaching assistants
  • Parents at each school
  • Members of the Boston Parents Council
  • Members of the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee

 

Surveys

I will send surveys to the teachers, Wayland parents, and Wayland residents that do not have children in the school system.
Observations

I will observe classes, sporting and artistic events, teacher meetings, PTO meetings, and town-wide meetings.

 

Part 2: Report of Findings, February 2018

In February of 2018, I will produce a report of findings that I will present to the Wayland School Committee. This report will provide insights into the research questions listed above. After this report is published in February, I will spend until May meeting with stakeholders to discuss my findings and to get their input into creating action steps. Then, from June until August, I will work with the administrative team to pull these insights together into a three-year plan.

Part 3: Publishing Three-Year Plan for Wayland Public Schools, August 2018

This Action Plan will articulate a shared vision with goals and action steps to reach that shared vision. This Action Plan will tie directly to school and district improvement plans so that the district moves forward as a coherent whole.