Boston puts brakes on changing school start times
Boston school officials have decided against changing the start times for elementary, middle, and K-8 schools for next fall, saying they need more time to conduct an analysis and consult with the community, officials announced Friday night.
“There are no plans at this time to make changes to start and end times for the upcoming school year as it’s important that we take the time to work with the entire school community through this process,” the School Department said.
School officials have been eyeing changes to start times in an effort to reduce busing costs, which represent about 10 percent of the department’s $1 billion budget. It was one of 10 measures in a long-term financial plan released this fall.
But the possible changes have created tension across the school system because start times are a key reason parents pick a school for their children, often to fit into their work schedules.
The possible cost-cutting measure was also being considered as other parents were beginning the process of choosing schools for the next school year.
In response to growing concerns, the Boston Teachers Union’s executive board passed a resolution Wednesday urging the School Department to hold a series of community meetings before making any changes to start times.
Richard Stutman, the union president, said he was glad the department was not going to push any changes through for next fall. “I’m glad they listened to the feedback,” Stutman said.
School officials also will not make a presentation on start times to the School Committee next Wednesday, officials said.
Deputy Superintendent Donna Muncey told principals last month that the department was planning to change the start times at an unspecified number of schools for next fall and would not consider any requests from individual schools, a departure from past practice.
The goal is to have a more even distribution of schools across the system’s three start times: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., and 9:30 a.m. That, in turn, would allow more buses to do three runs instead of two.
Currently, three-quarters of the schools start at 8:30 or 9:30 a.m., according to a Globe analysis of bell schedules for nearly 100 city-run elementary, middle, and K-8 schools and early childhood centers.
But the number represents less than half the schools the School Department buses students to. Under state law, it must also bus students to private, parochial, and charter schools.
The department buses students to 109 schools at or near 7:30 a.m., 128 at 8:30 a.m., and 54 at 9:30 a.m.