Tim Jones

BPS Holding Meetings After New School Time Backlash

Frustrated parents in Boston Public Schools sounded off Monday night about the proposed changes to school start and dismissal times set to take effect next school year.

Most of the anger surrounds elementary schools, where next year many students will be starting as early as 7:15.

"You can’t ask children to wake up at the crack of dawn and go out to school," said parent Tigran Eldred. "Get their school buses before it’s even light out."

Eldred and his wife are now considering pulling their two children out of Manning Elementary next year.

"This changes everything for us," said his wife Jen Stumpf. "We wouldn’t stay at our school with a 7:15 start time because we don’t think it’s good for our kids."

Many think kids will be too tired waking up so early.

"Who’s going to suffer from this are young children getting sleep deprived," said teacher Angela Rubenstein. "Coming to school not ready to learn which is going to hurt academic outcomes in the long run, as a teacher I see that."

With dismissal, as early as 1:15 in some cases, some worry about coming up with the money for extended hours in after-school.

"Who’s going to pay for it," asked parent Gretchen Lahey, whose son attends Hernandez K-8 School. "Do I have to pay for it? I’m struggling now to pay for the after school that he’s in at his school, so how I will pay a higher cost of after school."

There are 10 community-wide feedback meetings taking place across the city this week.

The school committee hopes to have a final decision on all of the changes by mid-January.

The school district has said the changes, in part, will lead to savings in the busing budget, and the money will go back into the schools.

"I want to know specifically what we’re getting," said parent Gena Mavuli. “Are we getting an extra music teacher? Are we getting more special ed help? We need to know exactly what the trade-off is."

Parents of Boston Public Schools students continue to voice their concerns about new school start times, many saying the changes will disrupt their daily routines. 

The backlash prompted school officials to hold a series of 10 meetings where concerned parents can speak out. 

The changes to school start and dismissal times are set to take effect next year, but many parents are hoping it doesn’t get that far. They’d like it postponed or scrubbed altogether. 

“I implore you to put these changes on hold and work with each individual school to determine what is best for that school and its families and find a way to make it work,” said one parent at a meeting. 

Parents blasted the Boston School Committee last week after hearing about the changes days earlier. 

“This must be fake news but it wasn’t,” said another parent. “My walk over to the pick-up I can only describe it as panic. The parents were panicked by your vote, by your actions.” 

The primary concern comes from parents of elementary school children, because the school day for many of them will be bumped up by a couple of hours, starting as early as 7:15 and dismissing at 1:15.

Parents say kids will be too tired starting school so early, and many parents worry about paying for additional hours of afterschool programs. 

“So we face a series of very unpleasant choices around the kitchen table across this city, the after-school choice, having a partner exit the workforce, which is very real for many families or leaving BPS altogether,” said another parent. 

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday night in West Roxbury. 

The Boston School Committee hopes to have its final decision sometime in January. 

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