The school day at Weston High School and Middle School would start over an hour later under a new proposal slated for a vote by the School Committee on Feb. 26.
Under the proposal, classes at the High School and Middle School would run from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., instead of the current 7:30 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. at the High School and 7:40 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Middle School.
Classes at the elementary schools would be similar to the current schedule, with a new start time at 8 a.m. instead of 8:10 a.m., and still ending at the current time of 2:20 p.m.
“Teens don’t get enough sleep,” School Committee member John Henry said at last week’s School Committee meeting. “They should be getting eight-and-a-half to nine-and-a-quarter hours, and 70 percent of U.S. high school students aren’t.”
According to a Weston student survey, less than half of Weston High School students get more than seven hours of sleep per night, and only 39 percent of girls get more than seven hours per night.
“It’s even worse for junior girls,” Henry said, “that junior year is a tough year across the board.”
Only 10 percent of Weston High School students reported sleeping more than eight hours a night.
“Lots of research out there shows that later start times help students get more sleep, and that leads to a number of positive outcomes,” Henry said. “If we do this, most kids are going to get more sleep.”
As part of the proposed new schedule, a “W” block would exist at the Middle and High schools on Wednesday or Thursday from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. in which students would be able to meet with teachers for extra help or make up tests, and teachers would be able to meet with each other for professional development.
There will be some additional cost to accommodate the new schedule, according to Henry, with additional runs for the elementary schools and longer drive times, particularly for METCO drivers.
Henry said the school district is working with the town’s Recreation Department on offering some programming at the Middle School and perhaps High School before the school day starts, for working parents who have unavoidable conflicts.
“We definitely have to be flexible,” Henry said. “My guess is the first couple days of school would be rough, in terms of transportation, figuring it out, parents figuring it out … We’re definitely going to have to be flexible on transportation and adapt as we go along.
“So many schools are making this move,” he added. “More and more districts all around us are looking at this.”
A school-wide survey about the proposed change garnered 722 responses representing 1,271 students who plan to attend the Weston Public Schools next year, or over half of the students, according to Henry.
Comments from the community are still welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.