No School Start Time Changes for RSU 14

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RSU 14's School Start Time Committee has recommended keeping existing start times for the district.

RAYMOND — RSU 14 will be sticking with the existing start times for Windham-Raymond schools after a committee explored possible changes and ultimately recommended maintaining the status quo.

Windham High School Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti gave a presentation to the RSU School Board on Feb. 28, in which he outlined the work done by the School Start Time Committee.

Rossetti said that the committee “found a lot of hurdles in the process” that would complicate the possibility of starting schools later or flipping existing start times for different schools in the district. Those hurdles, he said, included implications for district transportation, athletics, and elementary school drop-offs.

“Ultimately the impact – it’s a challenge for us,” Rossetti added.

The start time committee included representatives from various schools in the district, school board, athletic department, transportation department, Superintendent Sandy Prince and others. Its work included student, teacher and parent surveys. They also reviewed impacts and data collection on districts that have already made start-time changes.

School Board Member Marge Govoni asked if it would be possible to track how start time changes are working in other communities that have made a switch.

Rossetti said there is an “open line of communication” with other districts such as Yarmouth that have instituted later start times and are starting to compile data on their experiences.

Board Vice Chairwoman Kate Brix said she needed to see data demonstrating that changes to start times enhance student achievement before she could entertain a switch in RSU 14.

Board Member Anna Keeney said that one of her children attends another school district with later start times and she sees a benefit to that change.

“I hate when I disagree with you guys, because I love the work that you do,” Keeney said in response to the presentation. “I’m a little uncomfortable with ‘let’s just stay with the status quo.'”

“It really is wildly impactful,” she added about her family’s experience with a later start time.

Board Member Scott McLean said he was “very happy with just kind of remaining status quo because I’m sitting back and I’m watching what’s happening in Scarborough. And I kinda want to see how that whole thing plays out.”

The Forecaster has reported on the divide in the Scarborough community caused by a change in school start times slated for the fall, including speculation that the change is linked to the controversial resignation of the Scarborough High School principal.

While RSU 14 will not be moving forward with start time changes at this point, the committee’s work will be archived for possible review down the road.

“I think the key here is we’ve done some really good research,” said Superintendent Prince. “I’m very comfortable thinking that this is good work, right now it doesn’t make sense. Will it make sense five years from now? Maybe.”

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

RSU 14’s School Start Time Committee has recommended keeping existing start times for the district.

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