While Monomoy Regional School District Superintendent Scott Carpenter had little trouble convincing the regional school committee of the need to begin the school day a half hour later for high school and middle school students and an hour earlier for the elementary schools, the committee was divided on his proposal to delay the change for a year to allow parents and school officials to budget for possible increases in personal child care and school transportation.
“We lose an hour of quality learning time each day because children are exhausted by 2 p.m.,” said Chatham school committee member Amy Middleton at the May 25 meeting. She advocated that the committee vote in favor of changing school start times beginning next year. Although changes are generally being made to accommodate the sleep patterns of teenagers, Carpenter and the committee felt the biggest beneficiaries in this case would be the elementary school students.
The committee voted at the meeting to have elementary schools in Harwich and Chatham start over an hour earlier at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m. The middle and high schools would begin at 8:30 a.m., a half hour later than they currently do, with dismissal at 3 p.m.
“Elementary school children are at the end of their learning time long before the end of the school day,” Carpenter said Monday. Starting all schools at 8:15 a.m. would mean almost doubling the amount of buses needed at $60,000 annual estimated expense.